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Baby squirrel who captivated Germany is safe

August 13, 2018

"Pippilotta" stole the headlines last week after following a man "relentlessly" through the streets of Karlsruhe. According to animal control officers, this is common for squirrels who have lost their mothers.

"Karl-Friedrich" the maruading squirrel
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/Polizeipräsidium Karlsruhe

It turned out on Monday that Karl-Friedrich, the baby squirrel whose headline-grabbing antics captivated Germany last week, is, in fact, a girl. 

The animal rescue agency said that they had decided to rename her Pippilotta, the full first name of children's book heroine Pippi Longstocking.

The story began on Friday "when a man was followed relentlessly through the streets by the squirrel," a spokeswoman for the police in the southern city of Karlsruhe told DW.

"He panicked a bit when the animal would not stop, and probably wanting to make sure the squirrel is properly cared for, he turned to us," the spokeswoman said. "According to the animal rescue center, such behavior is not uncommon amongst squirrels. Especially young ones who have lost their mother and are looking for a substitute."

Karlsruhe police were able to lure the baby animal away from the man with a box of leaves.

They joked that they would make a mascot of the squirrel, whom they first named after 18th-century lawyer Karl Friedrich Eichhorn, whose last name resembles Eichhörnchen, the German word for squirrel.

Will to survive

The city's wild animal protection services have said that Pippilotta likely fell out of her nest, which is why she may have been searching for another adult animal to follow.

A spokeswoman added that they had been very impressed by the baby's will to survive, as she came to them severely dehydrated and with a slight injury in one eye.

But now, "she's doing great, she's getting fitter every day and has gained 30 grams."

For the time being, Pippilotta must be fed every three hours with a special energy drink for animals. One she gets stronger, she will be introduced to her new playmate Björn, a boy squirrel, and moved into a larger enclosure. She will then be able to make use of a "nature playground" to prepare her for reintroduction to the outside, which should happen at the end of September.

Elizabeth Schumacher
Elizabeth Schumacher Elizabeth Schumacher reports on gender equity, immigration, poverty and education in Germany.