Pop stars, celebrities, bloggers, and mega-brands are the usual famous suspects on Instagram. Not so for “Pumpkin” the raccoon, who belongs to Will and Laura Young, the owners of the Bahamas home featured on Garden & Gun’s August/September cover and has amassed more than 1.2 million followers on the social media platform.
“When Pumpkin was less than a month old, my mother, Rosie Kemp, found her under a tree,” Laura remembers. “She noticed the mother never returned, so we took Pumpkin to the vet and discovered she had sustained a broken leg and needed to be bottle-fed because of how young she was.” With no access to wildlife rehabilitation centers near their Nassau home, taking Pumpkin in meant ensuring her survival. After months nursing Pumpkin back to health, she had fully acclimated to her new home and could not be released. Which leads Laura to an important disclaimer: “I have to mention that raccoons are not pets,” she says, “and if you do come across an injured or baby raccoon, please take it to your local wildlife shelter for the best possible care.”
In 2015, the Youngs began an Instagram account for Pumpkin to keep friends and family updated on her progress, and the rest is social media history. When a website called the Dodo did a post the same year, the account went viral. “I never imagined she would become such a hit!” Laura laughs.
“It’s important to use Pumpkin’s star status for good,” Laura says. “We are involved with the Bahamas Alliance for Animal Rights and Kindness (BAARK) as well as the Bahamas Humane Society. We feature rescue dogs that are in desperate need of homes, and have helped raise donations for both organizations.” And yes, Pumpkin is still up to the antics that attracted such a large following in the first place, from kissing her rescue-dog siblings, Toffee and Oreo, to eating with the family at the dinner table with a knife and fork, to swimming in the bathtub.
The Youngs have so many memories of Pumpkin that Laura even penned a book, Pumpkin: The Raccoon Who Thought She Was a Dog. One of Laura’s favorite stories from the book is the one about the “great flood,” when Pumpkin turned on every faucet in the house while they were away.
To follow Pumpkin yourself, look no further than @pumpkintheraccoon. Don’t say we didn’t warn you about laughing out loud at the cuteness.