It’s been a long, hot summer here in Phoenix! Recently, on a 108-degree Saturday afternoon while driving to the mall, my husband and I were startled to see a tiny flash of brown fur barely moving along the side of the road near the concrete median strip.
Before it could register, we were already past it… followed quickly by “turn around!”, which, of course, we did. With the car idling illegally in a turn lane, we began walking down the median, cars whizzing by on both sides, holding our breath that we weren’t too late for whatever it was.
What “It” turned out to be was the most adorable baby cottontail rabbit we had ever seen. This tiny little creature had miraculously managed to make it across 3 lanes of oncoming traffic on a notoriously busy street and was desperately trying to hop up onto the tall curb of the median. However, heat and stress had taken its toll, and he had collapsed up against the curb, panting, legs too weak to make the jump.
I instantly scooped him up and we sprinted back to the car. Once safely inside, I covered him with a jacket and immediately called Liberty Wildlife.
To The Rescue
Liberty Wildlife Rehab Foundation is a non-profit wildlife rescue and rehabilitation center in Phoenix run by an extremely dedicated staff of volunteers. The mission of this remarkable organization is to provide wildlife rehab, education, and community conservation services in the state of Arizona.
In other words, if there’s a wild animal in trouble, these folks are the ones to call! They’ve personally rescued all types of mammals, birds, reptiles (including rattlesnakes and Gila Monsters), turtles, and tarantulas.
Liberty Wildlife’s website is a veritable treasure trove of information regarding the Do’s and Don’ts of caring for injured wildlife (regardless of the state where you live). It includes everything from how to care for an injured bird, to what to do if you have a raccoon trapped in your garage. For instance, did you know that putting a baby bird back in its nest will NOT cause the parents to abandon it? As it turns out, birds have a very poor sense of smell and will take the baby back (as long as it’s put back in the right nest!)
In addition to rescuing and rehabilitating wild animals in trouble, Liberty Wildlife also conducts wildlife research, performs habitat restoration projects, and develops wildlife protection programs for corporations. Additionally, they conduct education programs for kids by visiting classrooms and teaching about the history of native wild animals, the delicate place these animals hold in the ecosystem, and the influence of humans on animals’ native habitat.
By now I’m sure you’re wondering what happened to our adorable baby bunny! Once he had time to recover from the immediate stress of his ordeal, his eyes opened and he happily nestled into my hands, tiny nose twitching against my palm, for the 20-minute drive to Liberty Wildlife’s rehabilitation facility.
I must admit that when it was time to hand him over to the caring volunteers who would examine him, treat his dehydration, and feed and look after him until he was old enough to be released back into the wild, I covertly shed a few tears. It’s amazing how quickly you can become attached to an animal so sweet and helpless.
However, I knew he would be given the best possible care. And best of all, the volunteers at Liberty Wildlife told me that when he was ready to leave, he would be taken back to the general vicinity where he was found (which happened to be near a lush, green golf course) and released back into the environment where he most likely was born. Perhaps, I would like to believe, to someday be reunited with his littermates.
Don’t you just love a happy ending? 🙂
If you would like to learn more about Liberty Wildlife, the services they provide for our native animals, and how you might be able to help, please visit www.libertywildlife.org.
Do you have any wildlife rescue stories you’d like to share? Please tell us about it in the comments below…we’re suckers for a happy ending!