It isn’t often you see a grown man climbing trees in Pocatello, but for George Simmons it’s all part of the job, that started as a boyhood love of the outdoors. It has also fostered his love of wild animals. And recently he’s taken that love to an extreme.
George Simmons found a career through his childhood love of climbing trees, but that isn’t all he’s found up in the branches.
“When I find babies in the trees, I can’t let them starve to death.” George says, “I got to take ‘em home and feed ‘em. So, I take everything home.”
He’s rescued squirrels, birds, even a beaver, but what he’s known for is a 50 pound fluffball appropriately named “Coons.”
“They were trapping the mammas,” George explains, “There were three litters we ended up with. We rescued them. 3 days old 4 days old all the way up to about 8 weeks old. She was only a couple days old. I thought she was dead actually. So, I put her in my pocket because there were some little kids there playing with the rest of them and this is what happened.”
George was able to rehab and eventually release all the others back into the wild, but Coons was too attached.
“Well, coons usually get mean at about a year old. It’s really easy to raise a coon and turn ‘em back into the wild that’s where they should be. She has to sleep with me. She won’t eat unless I give it to her. She has to go everywhere with me. She’s my baby,” says Simmons.
Coons eats mostly vegetables, but loves potato chips and has a thing for ice tea.
“Sweet tea. Yup, she loves Arizona sweet tea,” says Simmons.
Coons is now three years old and goes just about everywhere with George, the notoriety is not something George is used to.
Simmons says, “She has to get up there and sit on my head and we have to walk down to the store. Some of ‘em thinks it’s cool. Some of ‘em thinks I’m crazy. She definitely draws attention though.”
Davey Crocket may have made the coon skin cap famous, but he’s got nothing on George and his pal, Coons.
George has tried to release Coons into the wild, but hasn’t been successful. Because of her rare situation, she is currently, the only microchipped raccoon in the state, and is registered and regularly taken to the veterinarian. George has a big heart for the animals he rescues but he tries to release them and does not recommend raccoons or wild animals as pets.