The VICE Guide to Right Now

New Yorkers, Here's How to Tell the Difference Between a Tiger and a Raccoon

For whoever called the cops after they confused an innocent little trash panda for a killing machine.
April 12, 2018, 9:44pm
Photo of a tiger by Flickr user Mathias Appel; photo of a raccoon by Flickr user Neil McIntosh

Early Thursday morning, a New York City neighborhood went on red alert after someone called the cops to report a tiger was roaming the streets of Washington Heights, NBC New York reports. A news chopper descended on the neighborhood frantically looking for the fanged beast, while reporters and police scrambled to track it down on the ground. Denizens scanned Citizen, a crime-reporting app, looking for any update on where the bloodthirsty creature might be.

At the end of a harrowing 20 minutes, the cops finally got their hands on the animal wreaking havoc on Upper Manhattan. Turns out it wasn't actually a tiger; instead, whoever reported the thing had, bafflingly, actually spotted a raccoon.

Because it's not already abundantly clear, this seems like an appropriate time to provide a PSA for the lovely, fauna-illiterate citizens of New York—a simple, go-to guide you can turn to any time you're wondering whether what your looking at is a vicious, jungle-dwelling killing machine, or an annoying little trash panda.

For starters, this is a tiger:

Photo by Flickr user Mathias Appel

This, on the other hand, is a raccoon:

Photo by Flickr user Neil McIntosh

As you can see, tigers are orange and white, with black stripes, as such:

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Whereas raccoons, an entirely different beast altogether, are typically grayish-black, with white underbellies, and a black "mask" across their eyes that makes them look like little rodent burglars. Take a gander:

Photo by Flickr user yel02

When riled up or threatened, tigers tend to bare their teeth, or perhaps even roar, displaying their sizable jowls and intimidating fangs:

Raccoons, however, are virtually incapable of looking even remotely intimidating, unless they're inexplicably acting like zombies. Unlike tigers, even if they try to show off their incisors, they still just wind up looking cute, harmless, and a little bewildered:

Photo by christiankaff

Tigers can do things like kill people and shut down entire highways, which makes sense given that they look like this:

Photo by Flickr users Robert & Pat Rogers

Meanwhile, raccoons tend to spend their time getting into all sorts of adorable shenanigans, like hitching rides on garbage trucks and eating so much trash they get stuck in sewer grates. See?

Let's do this one last time, just to be safe. Tiger:

Photo by Flickr user Bernard Spragg

Raccoon:

Photo by Flickr user AЯMEN

Got it? You sure? Great.

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Related: A Rare Sumatran Tiger Was Born at the National Zoo