Animals

Rabbit Rescued From California Wildfire In Recovery, And Her Rescuer Has Been Identified

The bunny and her 21-year-old rescuer were reunited this week.

Here’s some good news to come out of the tragic Southern California fires: The bunny famously rescued from the California wildfires is recovering well.

The cottontail suffered burns to her feet, ears and tail after hopping in the flames of the Thomas fire. Her rescuer, Caleb Wadman, 21, took her to a nearby veterinary hospital after whisking the bunny away from the blaze alongside Highway 1.

A news photographer captured the dramatic rescue on video, and it went viral after being shared on Dec. 7.

Rabbit Is In Recovery

The rabbit was eventually transferred to the California Wildlife Center in Malibu, where she is receiving treatment for burns.

“This rabbit needed to get medical attention,” Dr. Duane Tom, director of animal care, told Inside Edition. Wadman was reunited with the rabbit at the California Wildlife Center. During an Inside Edition segment, he holds the bunny wrapped in a towel.

Another Man Had Claimed Credit For The Rescue

Though another man claimed to have carried the bunny to safety, close analysis of the viral video proves Wadman was the rescuer on the clip.

“I just ran out,” he told Newsweek. “I had faith… and that’s when the bunny ran back towards the flames. And I was like, “No, baby bunny, I’m here. I’m going to take care of you.”

How To Help

After the video made such a splash, many experts worry it sets a bad precedent. It looks heroic on film, but such actions are risky. It can put other people and firefighters in harm’s way.

“If you encounter a wild animal in our neighborhood, leave it alone,” Peter Tira, a California Fish and Wildlife spokesperson, told SFGate in October. “Fire or no fire, just let the animals be.”

animal fire photo
Getty Images | David McNew

While pets may not have the same instincts, animals deal with wildfires frequently and can rely on their natural survival instincts. According to a U.S. Forest Service report wildfires don’t kill many animals. Small mammals like rabbits can ride out surface fires in their burrows.

In the case of pets and contained animals—like the horses that were rescued on-camera during the wildfire—human assistance in getting to safety is often crucial.

This wild bunny is still undergoing treatment and is at the beginning of a long road to recovery. The California Wildlife Center has plenty of safe ways animal lovers can help. You can donate and sponsor an animal, or apply for volunteer opportunities available.

Southern California Wildfires Forces Thousands to Evacuate
Getty Images | David McNew

The Southern California fires, including the Thomas fire from which this rabbit was rescued, have burned more than 200,000 acres of land and more than a thousand structures. The latest estimates are that the fire is 30 percent contained.

Getty Images