Famous saved rabbit

This video went viral last month, for it showed an act of empathy and valor: a man, clearly very upset, rescued an even more distressed rabbit from a California wildfire. This is exactly what bucks people up in stressful times like these:

As care2 notes, the Rabbit Rescuer has been identified:

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.

As Inside Edition reports, another guy, Oscar Gonzalez, claimed credit for saving the rabbit, but he didn’t. That’s a pretty crappy thing to do—trying to steal someone else’s spotlight. But the good news is not only that the rabbit survived, but that it survived because Waldman also brought it in for treatment:

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 [California Wildlife Center], 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.

The bunny is okay! (It appears to be Sylvilagus audubonii, the desert cottontail):

Whoever saves one life, saves the world.

h/t: Su


  1. ploubere
    Posted January 28, 2018 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    One lucky wabbit.

  2. yazikus
    Posted January 28, 2018 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    A happy ending, then! I wonder how sad an boring a life would have to be to make one consider taking credit for another’s act of altruism such as this. There are plenty of ways to help animals, it isn’t as if it were a rare opportunity.

  3. Diana MacPherson
    Posted January 28, 2018 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    Awww poor bunny was screaming because of her burns!

    • mikeyc
      Posted January 28, 2018 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

      Or because it was screams of fear. She was faced with two terrifying choices – flee into the flames or towards the human chasing her and the traffic behind him.

      I’m afraid I agree with California Fish and Wildlife spokesperson Peter Tira (see linked story). I know that will make me unpopular here.

      • Posted January 28, 2018 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

        Have been doing animal rescue for 50+ years, and I know the risks. But if the situation presents itself and I see any animal in distress, I will try and help.

        The only thing that would stop me would be if I thought my intervention might cause more problems, such as a panicked dog along an expressway who might run *into* traffic.

        Years ago, trying to find what sounded like a small bird in distress eventually led me to a human neighbor with Parkinson’s. She had fallen out of her front porch lawn chair and laned face down, completely up against her evergreen bushes so she could not be seen. My “rescue” didn’t save her life, of course, but it certainly did make the half hour before her husband returned from the store, more pleasant.

      • darrelle
        Posted January 29, 2018 at 7:56 am | Permalink

        I think you are correct about the rabbit being caught between two terrifying choices, human or fire. But I still think the human did the right thing. Most of the time that animals are in situations where they need help a human trying to help them faces the same issue. The animal is going to be scared of them. Would the rabbit have survived if the human hadn’t intervened? We can’t know. If it were already burned before the human intervened it likely would have died from its wounds eventually.

  4. J Cook
    Posted January 28, 2018 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    Greetings Jerry,
    Following the rabbit story on youtube is something you might want to watch. A conspiracy story??

  5. Randall Schenck
    Posted January 28, 2018 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    I remember seeing this on the news. Good to hear the rabbit was taken care of.

  6. Richard Portman
    Posted January 28, 2018 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    In a different context, we would have been happy to catch and eat that bunny. Just go ask pet house cat.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted January 28, 2018 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

      But you are possibly a human and do not speak for house cat.

    • yazikus
      Posted January 28, 2018 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

      I went into a country produce store a few months ago (the kind with animals to pet, fresh eggs, etc) after seeing the sign outside advertising both ‘Rabbits & Plums’. Kiddo had been hankering for a rabbit in plum sauce so I figured I might as well go for it. After wandering around the store (I did find the plums) I could still not find the rabbits. I went to the counter to inquire whether they were in a back freezer or somewhere else, and the cashier looked at me with a look of pure horror as she pointed behind me. There, outside the door, were the hutches for bunnies and kittens, for sale as pets. They had no rabbits to be sold for eating. I still think the sign was misleading.

  7. Posted January 28, 2018 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    That’s wonderful news – thanks for the update. 🙂

  8. rickflick
    Posted January 28, 2018 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

    A simple act that touches us deeply. Humanity may yet survive the fickle finger of fate.

  9. Posted January 28, 2018 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

    An antidote for our times, and brought a smile to my face. Thanks Jerry.

  10. ladyatheist
    Posted January 28, 2018 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t know bunnies could scream! I’d be upset by that too. I’m glad to hear she survived.

    • mikeyc
      Posted January 28, 2018 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

      They do, sadly. When I was young I encountered a large cottontail caught in a leg hold trap. When the poor thing saw me he started to scream. It was wrenching. I freed it but its leg was broken so I had to euthanize it. I euthanized the trap too, with much anger and violence.

    • darrelle
      Posted January 29, 2018 at 8:38 am | Permalink

      One day when my children were about 6 years old they and some friends came running into the house, very alarmed, to get me to come help. They hurriedly dragged me towards the abandoned grove behind our property, then came to a certain point and stopped. Shortly their was a horrible high pitched scream. It was really unnerving. It sounded as if it could be a human in supreme agony. The kids wouldn’t budge any closer to the sound. I went to find out what was going on, with some trepidation. I followed the screaming and discovered the source at the base of some bushes out of sight around the other side of where the kids were standing. There, a snake had caught a frog and was attempting to swallow it down. The frog’s front legs and head were still outside of the snakes mouth and it was the frog, no bigger than about half my palm, that was issuing those horrible, and loud, screams!

      I assured the kids that it was safe and they came over to see what was what. The snake decided to get the heck out of Dodge (kids are rather noisy), let the frog go and slithered away. I never would have imagined that a frog could scream like that!

      • Posted January 29, 2018 at 9:01 am | Permalink


      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted January 29, 2018 at 11:08 am | Permalink

        I once saw a similar horror with a snake eating a frog in the woods but the frog was peeping like a bird. I left the bipusiness but I always wanted to save the frog. Of course this would mean the snake would go without food. But it was awful.

        • Posted January 29, 2018 at 11:39 am | Permalink

          In such circustances, I alway identify with the about-to-be-eaten, not the “they will miss a meal.”

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted January 29, 2018 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

            Me too but I reasoned my way out of it. I still feel bad though.

        • darrelle
          Posted January 29, 2018 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

          I think I know just how you felt.

          But then, frogs are no angels! Many species will eat anything they can catch and fit in their mouths. Little monsters!

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted January 29, 2018 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

            I think “Frogs Are No Angels” would be an interesting book title. I can already see the cover.

            • darrelle
              Posted January 29, 2018 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

              Now that you mention it, I think I saw the cover of that book just recently.

              Yep, here it is.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted January 29, 2018 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

                Haha ewwww.

              • Posted January 29, 2018 at 3:59 pm | Permalink


              • darrelle
                Posted January 29, 2018 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

                That is gruesome. Poor mouse, evil frog!

  11. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted January 28, 2018 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

    Smokey the rabbit!
    “Only you can prevent fiery hares”.

  12. Yvonne Wilder
    Posted January 28, 2018 at 11:24 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for posting this piece – it is so nice to have an update on the rabbit! Professors in my biology programs would always tell me that the fate of individual animals was unimportant and that I shouldn’t fret what happened one way or another — only population level events matter, but this admonition never rang true for me. Other animals are individuals, just as we are, and endeavor keep living if at all possible. I’m glad there are others out there that acknowledge the value of each life. Good on Mr. Wadnan and this spunky rabbit!

  13. Jake Sevins
    Posted January 29, 2018 at 12:41 am | Permalink

    Ok, I know this is a callous reaction to have for a feel-good story, but…

    is it really rational to celebrate the life-saving efforts of one guy to save one rabbit when there are so many rabbits (and other creatures with about the same cognitive capacity) being thoughtlessly run over, chased from their habitat, farmed for food, etc. I mean, I love a feel-good story, but it seems like it’s a little hypocritical to pat ourselves on the back for one rabbit when we (implicitly) support so much animal suffering at the same time. (I am as guilty as anyone, since I eat meat.)

    Someone please explain this to me (while being kind, if at all possible)?

    • Posted January 29, 2018 at 6:04 am | Permalink

      It isn’t rational, and it does not have to have that quality for it to still be a good thing.
      My take at the moment is that when we are sent reeling over a tragedy that spans from horizon to horizon, the mind seeks something — anything, to redress the balance and bring us back a little. It may not seem rational but it does help a little to get us to carry on.

      • darrelle
        Posted January 29, 2018 at 7:48 am | Permalink

        I can certainly rationalize a rational reason for celebrating acts like the saving of this rabbit. If we want to improve our society to one that has less human suffering then giving positive feedback in response to acts like this young man’s is likely to apply a bit of pressure in the direction we want society to go. Because it sure seems to me that there is a correlation between a lack of compassion for other animals and a lack of compassion for humans.

        Would we rather live in a society where most people who come across another animal, perhaps a human, in extremis would not be bothered to try and help or would we rather live in a society where most people would try to help? I think that if we were to choose the latter, which I do, then it is very rational to perform acts like this one and to respond positively to acts like this one.

        Of course I think most peoples’ reaction to feel good stories like this is an emotional response, at least initially. Emotional responses aren’t really irrational, more like arational.

    • Posted January 29, 2018 at 7:55 am | Permalink

      My short list. I am/have…
      • Not always guided by “the rational.”
      • Often have conflicting emotions at the same time.
      • Intervening with one individual creature, not an entire industry.
      • Not ‘patting myself on the back’ for the decision that one kid made. I’m just happy both were not further injured!

  14. Wotan Nichols
    Posted January 29, 2018 at 6:03 am | Permalink

    Can’t stand to see the slaughter
    But still I eat the meat.
    Can’t stand dishonest people
    But still sometimes I cheat.
    Can’t stand that air pollution
    But still I drive a car;
    Maybe them’s the reasons why
    Things is like they are.
    –Tower of Power

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