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Meet ‘Meeko,’ the Lehigh Valley Zoo’s recycling raccoon

Meeko, the recycling raccoon, at the Lehigh Valley Zoo.
Courtesy of the Lehigh Valley Zoo
Meeko, the recycling raccoon, at the Lehigh Valley Zoo.

A Pennsylvania raccoon is on a mission to save the planet.

The Lehigh Valley Zoo has chosen its raccoon “Meeko” to serve as a recycling ambassador for the zoo’s “Know Plastics” clean up campaign.

Dani DiMarco, an education specialist at the Lehigh Valley Zoo, is Meeko’s trainer.

In a video on the zoo’s Facebook page, DiMarco instructs the 9-year-old raccoon to find a crushed plastic water bottle. Meeko gets her cue to locate the bottle when DiMarco says the word “recycle.”

When Meeko finds the water bottle she’s given a treat like a green bean or worm. DiMarco said she’s working on teaching Meeko to put the bottle into a recycling bin.

The zoo’s message, DiMarco said, is a simple one.

“If our raccoons can learn how to recycle and learn to put things into a bin, then we all can do a little bit more to help out our planet,” DiMarco said.

DiMarco explained that raccoons possess remarkable dexterity that allows them to pick things up and move them around.

“Raccoons are really good with their hands,” said DiMarco. “They use their front four paws to pick up items and they’ll pick up food. We were like, well, she can pick up a water bottle and potentially put it into a recycle bin.”

DiMarco said one change people can make to help the planet is cutting down on single-use plastics. Those are items like water bottles and plastic bags that get thrown away after one use.

Read more, and hear the full story from our partners, WLVR.