Taraka Larson was out for an evening stroll in Central Park last night when she was attacked by two possibly rabid raccoons near the pond at 59th street. Larson, who plays in the band Prince Rama, spoke with Gothamist about the attack and her harrowing trip to the emergency room.
"I was having a really nice magical sunset walk with myself, listening to Donna Summer and the sun went down and I was just in the moment, listening and walking and appreciating everything," Larson tells us. "And I noticed these two little dance partners blocking my path [the raccoons]. And they didn’t really seem to notice me at first. They were in their own world and moving really strangely and having no center of gravity.
"I didn’t want to startle them, so I stopped and was looking at them and then they saw me and they started coming over to me really slowly and I just froze."
This is about when Larson took the following Instagram of the raccoon:
"They kept getting closer, and they were sniffing my shoes, maybe they were smelling my cat, and I thought they would go away," Larson recalls. "And then one of them got on top of my shoes and got under the tongue of my shoe and then wrapped its claws around my leg and started to gnaw on my leg. Instinct took over and I just kicked it off and ran away. It felt weird. It threw me off-guard. It felt lost, deranged."
Larson says she ran into the Plaza Hotel and told the concierge what had happened to her. Alarmed (justifiably) by her experience, the concierge had her rush to a nearby urgent care center, and from there she went to Roosevelt Hospital.
"At the hospital they asked me all these weird questions, like 'Are you sure it was a raccoon that bit you?'" Larson tells us. "I think I know a raccoon when I see one. 'Are you sure it wasn’t a squirrel?' Yeah, I’m sure it wasn’t a squirrel. 'Could it have been a small dog?' But they were baffled that it was a raccoon. They get squirrel bites every so often, but not raccoons."
Larson was given 15 shots in her ankle to head off a possible rabies infection, and will now have to go for five follow-up visits. Her advice to park-goers? "Don't smell like trash, and if you see raccoons, run away." And it's probably best not to Instagram your brush with potentially rabid wildlife.
The NYC Parks Department has not responded to a request for comment about the incident.