Long Branch Raccoons

LONG BRANCH —  For a few days last week, mother raccoon and her four newborn babies called the inside of the Long Branch Free Public Library's walls home.

Through a combined effort by city officials, the five animals were safely rescued, and the library was able to resume normal operations, according to Deb Nagel, supervisor of animal control for the city.

Nagel said library staff called last week to report hearing noises coming from the ceiling. She said she went she thought — correctly — the sounds were coming from raccoon pups.

Initially, the rescue effort started with putting traps in the ceiling, according to Nagel, but the mother was too smart, and moved her babies down to an elevator shaft in the building. Nagel said the babies were probably around 10 days old, and that their eyes were just starting to crack open.

"We didn't know how we could get them out, because nobody could fit down there," she said. "How the heck did this raccoon get these babies down there?"

Along with DPW director Stan Dzuiba and animal control director Sydney Johnson, a plan was conceived and executed to safely remove all the animals from the shaft, and the building. They cut through the wall and removed a steel door to get to raccoons.

"It was a happy ending," she said. "Usually things like this, it doesn't turn out well."

The animals were turned over to the Monmouth County SPCA for their future care, and to figure out what will happen next. Ross Licitra, the SPCA's executive director, told the Asbury Park Press the raccoons will be checked out before starting their journey to freedom.

"They'll be leaving the facility and going into foster care," Licitra told the Press. "When everything is copacetic, then they'll release them back into the wild."