by Heather Patrice Brown, Development Coordinator
This fall, when terrible wildfires ravaged the Southern California landscape, there came a spark of hope. A video went viral of a young man rescuing a wild rabbit from the flames of the Thomas Fire. The rabbit was initially brought to a local animal hospital and was then transferred to California Wildlife Center for care on December 6th.
The rabbit had suffered serious burns to her ears and toes, minor burns to her lips and singed fur all over her body. She was given pain relief and a quiet place to recover from shock. At first, she was not very active. There were concerns that she might have internal injuries from the fire as well as the obvious burns.
After two days, she began to perk up and eat again. The burn areas on her feet began to scab over, which was a sign of healing, but the burned tissue on her ears began to die. Dr. Duane Tom surgically removed the dead tissue from her ears. The overall shape of her ears did not change, so her hearing was not impacted. Dr. Tom also removed some dead tissue from her outside toes and she was still able to hop and get around.
The rabbit continued to recover and was transferred to a larger enclosure at the house of home care volunteer, Julie Gluck, for rehabilitation. Her appetite and activity level continued to increase. Her wounds healed well, and she was given a clean bill of health for release. On January 17th, she was released in Ventura. While she couldn’t be returned to her exact location because of the fire’s deforestation, she was released in a nearby area that had plenty of food, water and shelter. After a moment’s hesitation, the rabbit leapt out of the cage and quickly made her way to the cover of nearby bushes. The rabbit’s recovery from her horrible ordeal was a bright spot of hope amid the devastation of the fires.