Famous Rescued Thomas Fire Rabbit Released to Wild

One of the most viral, heartwarming – and controversial – images from the historic and tragic Thomas fire in Southern California last month was the video of the young man who stopped his car and risked his life to save a rabbit from the flames.

With the fire dangerously close to the Ventura County road and vehicles speeding behind him, the young man can be seen running toward the flames, silhouetted against the orange smoke. He appears to panic for a few seconds, holding his head as he jumps up and down.

“I was going crazy because she was screaming,” the rabbit rescuer, later identified as Caleb Wadnan, told Inside Edition.

Wadnan dropped to his knees and crawled to the rabbit, scooping her up and holding her against his chest.

He drove the rabbit to California Wildlife Center, a nonprofit medical care and rehabilitation facility located in Malibu.

Many people, myself included, were touched by what Wadnan did and consider him to be a hero. But wildlife experts advise against helping wild animals like the rabbit in distress. She may even have been running through the flames in an effort to protect her babies, LiveScience speculated.

“Fire or no fire, just let the animals be,” California Fish and Wildlife spokesperson Peter Tira told the San Francisco Chronicle.

According to a 2000 study by the U.S. Forest Service, small animals that live in burrows, like the rabbit Wadnan rescued, can survive wildfires by staying underground, as long as the holes are well ventilated.

Deer, foxes, rabbits and other wild animals must deal with fires constantly, Tira said, and they have a natural ability to be able to adapt to these disasters.

While it’s impossible to know whether the rabbit would have survived if Wadnan hadn’t intervened, one thing is certain: Because of his compassionate act, the rabbit’s burned ears and foot were able to be treated.

“This rabbit needed to get medical attention,” Dr. Duane Tom, director of animal care at CWC, told Inside Edition.

A week or so after Wadnan brought the rabbit to CWC, she was eating, gaining weight and very active. “The rabbit suffered severe burns to parts of her ears, which has killed the tissue. She will most likely need to have the dead tissue surgically removed from her ears,” CWC wrote on Facebook. “This will not hurt her hearing as she will retain the basic shape of her ears and she can still move them and direct them to pick up sounds.”

A toe on one of the rabbit’s front feet was also burned, CWC wrote, but the injury didn’t affect her ability to hop around.

After the burned tissue was surgically removed, the rabbit’s wounds quickly healed. “Throughout her recovery, she remained alert and active,” the CWC wrote in a Facebook post Jan. 17. She received a clean bill of health and approval to be released.

About five weeks after Wadnan brought her there, CWC returned the rabbit to the wild. Her hopping off to freedom was captured on video.

“While she couldn’t be returned to her exact location due to the deforestation and lack of vegetation, she was released in a nearby area that had plenty of food, water and shelter,” CWC wrote on Facebook.

If you, like Wadnan, saw a rabbit running near a fire, would you have done the same thing he did? Please leave a comment below, and check out these important tips about how to help wild animals during wildfire season.

Photo credit: ABC7/YouTube

196 comments

KimJ ManyIssues
KimJ M14 days ago

Yfs

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KimJ ManyIssues
KimJ M14 days ago

Yfs

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KimJ ManyIssues
KimJ M14 days ago

Tfs

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KimJ ManyIssues
KimJ M14 days ago

Tfs

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KimJ ManyIssues
KimJ M14 days ago

If only everyone had a heart like Caleb Wadnan...

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Leo Custer
Leo C19 days ago

Thank you for sharing!

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Nancy B
Nancy B19 days ago

thanks

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Janis K
Janis K19 days ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Marija M
Marija M19 days ago

Kudos to this wonderful man.

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Bilgimann A

"https://www.bilgimann.com

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