(WSVN) - When you hear the words “raccoon” and “viral” in the same sentence, probably not the best image comes to mind. Well, forget all that and get ready to meet an incredible animal who has gone viral for all the right reasons. 7’s Heather Walker has today’s 7 Spotlight.

Meet South Florida’s latest influencer.

Jaime Arslan, raccoon mom: “In Miami, he’s kind of known as a little bit of a fashionista.”

Louie the Raccoon is on a mission: to brighten social media, one viral video at a time.

Louie’s Instagram page has more than 373,000 followers.

Jaime Arslan: “That was never my intention to, like, make this raccoon influencer, but it kind of happened.”

Although Louie is a lot of fun, his story actually started with tragedy.

Jaime Arslan: “It began in 2021. My dad was in a car accident, and he passed away.”

Jaime Arslan, a former vet tech, started volunteering with a wildlife rescue to deal with her loss.

Jaime Arslan: “I took Louie under my wing, and I channeled all this grief that I had for my dad, and I put it all into taking care of him.”

Louie needed a home, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Jaime has since taken in three other raccoons: Lucy, Leo and Lea.

None of them could have been safely released back into the wild.

Heather Walker: “You’re a mom to four raccoons.”

Jaime Arslan: “Yes, I am a raccoon mom. Full-time.”

The foursome live and play inside and outside the family’s Southwest Miami-Dade home.

Jaime Arslan: “This is their playroom, so they spend every night in here.”

Their playground even has swimming pools.

Heather Walker: “They have a great life.”

Jaime Arslan: “They do. They’re living the raccoon dream.”

Online, Louie is famous for his hats and hilarious antics.

While it all looks fun, owning a raccoon is serious business.

It is legal in Florida, but it requires a permit. You cannot simply take one from the wild.

Jaime Arslan: “At the end of the day, a raccoon is a wild animal.”

Part of Louie’s Instagram page is used to educate people and change the perception of raccoons.

Jaime Arslan: “They have this reputation for loving trash. They actually love eating fruits and vegetables, and not a lot of people know that.”

Another myth is that all raccoons have rabies. They don’t. In fact, they can get rabies from other animals.

Not only does Louie enlighten people about raccoons, he also encourages followers around the world.

Jaime Arslan: “A lot of people say that Louie inspires them to feel good about themselves because Louie is kind of curvy, so he’s very body positive.”

Even social media influencers need their down time. Louie’s peaceful place is up in this tree in the family’s backyard. Jaime says he spends hours up there almost every day.

Given his large and loyal following, Jaime says some companies have wanted to pay Louie to endorse their products.

Heather Walker: “You’ve had bedding companies, toy companies, cat litter companies all trying to pay a raccoon.”

Jaime Arslan: “Yes.”

But Jaime prefers to pay it forward. All of the proceeds from the sale of Louie and Lucy’s paintings — yes, they paint — go to a Florida-based organization that rehabilitates injured wildlife. Giving back, just like Jaime’s dad did.

Jaime Arslan: “He would have loved to see all of this. He would have been so impressed. I feel like just as much as I saved Louie, he kind of saved me.”

Heather Walker, 7News.

Louie is also in the final round of a competition to be this year’s Cadbury Easter Bunny. He’s the first raccoon to ever enter the contest. The winner will be announced on Monday.

Watch more of Louie, Lucy, Leo and Lea 

Loki vs. Louie: Vote for the 2024 Cadbury Bunny

If you know of a person, place or group that you think we should highlight, email us at 7spotlight@wsvn.com

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