The most colorful political candidate in America today could be Mark “Coonrippy” Brown. The self-proclaimed hillbilly — who looks like a member of the Duck Dynasty clan — has entered the governor’s race in Tennessee in order to get his YouTube Star pet raccoon back from the state.
“But I guarantee you there will be changes made, changes you’ll like,” Brown said in his campaign announcement on YouTube. Brown didn’t say what the changes would be but he did make some of his beliefs clear.
“I think it’s time we bring the United States back to where it’s supposed to be: one state at a time, starting with Tennessee,” Brown said. “We are one nation under God, not above God.”
Brown is running for the Republican nomination for governor because incumbent Republican Gov. Bill Haslam didn’t help him in efforts to get his coon back.
Raccoon in the Shower
Coonrippy and his pet raccoon, Rebekah, became an online sensation last year when YouTube videos of the two showering together went viral. The videos generated a lot of laughs and attracted some very unwelcome attention from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA).
“Now that I have become a big fish, they’ve come after me to take Rebekah away from me,” Brown told TV station WATE. The agency’s officers came to Brown’s home in Gallatin, Tennessee, and seized Rebekah in July of last year.
The agency’s spokesmen contend that the raccoon was taken because Brown didn’t have the proper permit. Brown alleges that the agency didn’t respond to his requests for a permit.
“It was pointless to call TWRA because they don’t answer the phone,” Brown said. He had tried to get a permit to become a wildlife rehabilitator from the agency but could not get a permit, he says. Brown claimed that the documentation for the permit is on TWRA’s website, but the agency’s employees were unaware of it.
“The people that work down there don’t even know what’s on their own website,” Brown said of TWRA.
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Brown said he had told TWRA about Rebekah when he first adopted her. He also said he has been adopting raccoons and raising them for years. Brown kept another raccoon named Gunshow that became a YouTube sensation for four years. Among other things, Gunshow was known for dancing to Aretha Franklin songs. Gunshow died last year.
Rebekah has been moved to an animal sanctuary called Walden’s Puddle for reintroduction to the wild, The Huffington Post reported. Brown is upset about this because it means that Rebekah can now be hunted as a wild animal.
Governor Ignored Coonrippy’s Plight
Brown is angry at Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam because Haslam didn’t respond to his requests to help him get Rebekah back. The Huffington Post claimed that Coonrippy had 60,000 signatures on his Change.org petition to get Rebekah back.
“What good is the right to petition your government for the redress of grievances if the government just doesn’t bother to respond,” Nashville Scene blogger Betsy Philips wrote of Brown’s predicament.
“Governor Haslam ignored the cries from the entire United States,” Brown told his hometown newspaper, the Galatian News Examiner.
“Please use common sense and realize that this animal is no longer able to be rehabilitated for the wild,” one of Brown’s supporters, Francesca Serritella, wrote to Haslam. “It is domesticated. And as such, it should be adopted by a responsible home. Luckily you have one available. Please return the raccoon Rebekah to Mark Brown and his family. It’s truly what’s best for the animal at no harm to people or the community. Thanks.”
Coonrippy is quite a character: He used to trap animals for pelts for a living but now tries to help and relocate injured and orphaned wildlife. Coonrippy calls himself a steward of the planet.
Those interested in helping Coonrippy can visit a petition on change.org started by Alafair Robicheaux of Stanton, California.
Should the state allow raccoons to be pets? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.