Sara Morris Swetcharnik

Ethel's Debut

By Sara Morris Swetcharnik

Ethel is a coatimundi, a long-nosed Central American cousin to the raccoon. Ethel's home is at the Catoctin Zoo near Frederick, Maryland, but when she was only 18 months old, she was invited to appear on the television program "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" in order to demonstrate the Coati Back Walk, a popular acrobatic performance in which she scampers across the backs of volunteers during zoo education activities. Ethel was nervous at her Manhattan studio debut, so host Conan graciously put her on his lap. Further frightened by the sudden start of the studio band, she urinated. She was not invited back.