In the heartland of the District of Columbia, a most unusual wildlife refuge has emerged. The preserve, dubbed the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium, has fostered a uniquely urban jungle environment for over half a century. Within its walls, a delightful assortment of creature are housed, ranging from insects and interns to small mammals and journalists. One may even find the occasional footballer on its grassy fields. Join us now as we look at some of RFK’s wild inhabitants.
North American Raccoon
First Observed: 2011
The raccoon. Nature’s artful dodger, a cagey bandit who’s mischievous nature is as frustrating as it is adorable. Nocturnal in nature, raccoons are omnivorous creatures, culling their sustenance from a variety of vertebrates, invertebrates and plants. Also: trash.
And so it should come as no real surprise that - sometime in 2011 - Procyon lotor decided to call venerable RFK its home. Its wide pastures provide ample room to graze, while many of RFK’s other inhabitants - small and large alike - complete the raccoon’s food pyramid. Toss in the occasional plate of pump-cheese soaked leftover nachos or a half-eaten pupusa and you’ve got a veritable Old Country Buffet of raccoon food.
Fans embraced RFK’s new resident, even going so far as to give him a name - Ronnie. Little did they know, there were actually a family of raccoons roaming the halls of RFK stadium. And their domain was expansive - Ronnie and company didn’t limit their territory to concourses and seating areas. They took up residence in a much more comfortable area: the front office.
"I never physically saw him running around the concourse," much beloved former ticketing boss Fred Matthes - currently helping to launch the USL’s upstart Sacramento FC - told OWFSS on Tuesday evening. “I saw remnants of him, droppings and what not. Above the ceiling tiles on our floor.”
While those things seem easy enough to ignore, Ronnie’s reign of terror had a much worse effect on the team store, where urine seeping through ceiling tiles ruined a sizeable chunk of merchandise.
"They humanly trapped [Ronnie] in a cage and took him somewhere," Kevin Payne said at the time. "And then others seemed to show up. At least we don’t have stink bugs."
Given that the average lifespan of a raccoon in the metro D.C. area is between 1.7-2.8 years, I’d say RFK’s masked resident probably ascended to the big multi-purpose stadium in the sky a year or two ago. But the legend of Ronnie lives on - on banners, in Twitter accounts, and more importantly in the hearts and minds of the RFK faithful.
We miss you, Ronnie. Come home. Just stay away from the team store.