When you roll out of bed every morning and prepare to hit the workday hard, you generally have some idea of how your day will unfold. But, on those rare occasions when you show up and get completely blindsided, it sometimes makes for an incredible tale to tell.
As several Indian sugarcane farmers were finishing up a long day of grueling work in the fields, one of them spotted a uniquely colored tuft of fur several feet from the path they were about to follow. When they went to investigate, they all jumped back in shock!
India has, among plenty of other things, a vast number of sugarcane fields. Early every morning, teams of workers show up equipped with tools to farm their way through; the workday’s long, grueling, and monotonous.
Late one afternoon, as Maharashtra farmers were collecting their things and preparing for the long walk home, one of them saw a small spotted tuft underneath some fallen leaves. They leaned in to investigate — and then jumped back!
A worried baby leopard was looking up at them! The men stared at him in awe. They didn’t want to just leave the little guy alone; he’d clearly lost his way in the dense sugarcane stalks.
Fortunately, one of the farmers in the group had some experience with animal rescues. After all, the group did work in an environment where it wasn’t completely unheard of to spot roaming wildlife…
Where miles and miles of forests once sprawled over the land was now a plethora of skyscrapers and residential communities. The lack of land forced animals of all kinds into farmland where they sometimes came face to face with workers.
The sugarcane fields were particularly appealing since the height of the leaves made for great cover. Leopards would often post up in the brush, and it made for startling encounters. This encounter, however, was perfectly suited for the people at India’s Wildlife SOS.
The Wildlife SOS organization works around the clock to help animals in need, so this was the first group the farmers contacted after finding the leopard cub. They were, of course, more than happy to help.
Several members arrived at the sugarcane field not long after the farmers’ plea for help and secured the cub. The animal would be taken back to their headquarters, but they knew he couldn’t stay for long.
The cub had to be kept in a small plastic bin so he didn’t roam off; he was too young to protect himself, and workers needed to get him back into the protective care of his mother, wherever she was. So, they devised a careful plan…
Using a small hidden camera, the team would place the cub in a small clearing on its own (under their supervision, of course) in hopes the mother would eventually come looking.
Tensions ran high the night of the potential reunion. Sure, the team had plenty of successful missions under their belts, but nothing was ever certain when dealing with wild animals. They placed the box holding the cub in the clearing and waited.
Minutes turned to hours quickly, but shortly after nine o’clock, a commotion caught the group’s attention. To both their collective relief and amazement, an adult leopard came shuffling out of the sugar stalks, clearly curious about the contents of the box.
In one swift motion, the adult animal swatted the box on its side, spilling the tiny cub onto the fallen sugar stalks. For a brief moment both leopards seemed confused, but seconds later, the mother recognized her child, snatched him up in her mouth, and bounded back into the dense brush.
The Wildlife SOS team, yet again, ensured a young cub would have a great chance at growing into an independent adult. Not every one of their rescue missions resulted in a success, so they were grateful they could chalk this one up to a win.
Of course, this cub was lucky the rescue team spotted him and that Wildlife SOS knew just how to reunite him with his mom. Thankfully, rescue workers all over the planet are reuniting animal families every day.
That was no more apparent than one afternoon off the coast of Hartley Bay in British Columbia, Canada. Some researchers were sailing when they came upon a sight that shocked them to their cores…
Right there on the rocky shore was a baby orca — and she was stranded on the rocks. How she’d managed to get stuck was beyond them, but one thing was clear: she would surely die if they didn’t get help… and fast!
The researchers quickly called experts Hermann Meuter and Marvin Robinson at Cetacea Lab, a local non-profit research station situated along the north coast of British Columbia. The men immediately prepared for their mission.
Their team loaded up their boats as soon as they could; they knew that time wasn’t on their side. Killer whales and other marine life were drawn to that particular area because of the plentiful amount of plankton that drew the fish they loved to hunt and eat.
Once the team reached the area where the orca was stranded, they hurriedly unloaded all of their supplies. Their first priority was to set up the pumps so they could try to prevent the killer whale from suffocating.
Marvin was the first to climb to the top of the rocks; he needed to see how they could access the orca. It was clear the poor animal was struggling for air, but there was a problem: she was trapped in a tight spot that was inaccessible to the machinery that would allow them to save her quickly and efficiently.
Hermann then stepped onto the rocks and cautiously moved closer to the orca. He carried a large plastic bin that he hoped to use in order to pour water over the ailing killer whale. Still, he had to be careful not to slip and injure himself.
As more rescue workers surrounded the orca and covered her in wet blankets to keep her from drying out, something amazing happened. The little killer whale was crying out loudly, and members of her pod started circling the area. They refused to leave her side!
At first, the team was puzzled: how did the orca find herself wedged in such a tight position between these rocks? They theorized that her pod must have been hunting harbor seals when the tide left, leaving this particular orca stranded.
Surprisingly, the baby orca seemed to calm down as the rescue team layered blankets and tarps over her. She was likely extremely weak and fatigued, but it was almost as if she knew they were there to help.
Using the tubing and pump systems they brought, the crew started to spray the stranded orca with water. It was important that they kept her as wet as possible—they had eight hours until the tide came back in. Her life was in their hands.
The crew made sure to limit the number of team members who actually climbed onto the rocks. This was imperative to keeping the orca calm—as well as lowering the risk for their own danger. Meanwhile, the wet blankets kept her cool and comfortable.
Even though the team had a water pump that provided a constant flow of cold liquid, it wasn’t enough. Orca’s live in water, so in order to ensure her safety, they needed to dump as much of it as they could on her at all times.
By then the orca had been out of the water for several hours, and the team worked hard to keep her alive. They anxiously awaited the next high tide. Though the baby killer whale was in a much better condition than before, they weren’t out of the woods yet.
All the while, the orca’s pod was still circling the shore where she was stranded, and the poor animal called out to them every so often. As the tide began to come back in, the rescuers worried if the killer whale had been out of her natural habitat for too long or if she was injured…
Thankfully, the tide finally became high enough that it started to cover the little orca. As the water level rose, the team removed their equipment and blankets. They wanted to be sure that they maintained as little interaction with her as possible—she was a wild animal, after all!
The team had just spent the last several hours desperately trying to keep the orca alive, and it was time to see if their efforts proved successful. They hoped that the tide would rise high enough that the orca could wriggle out on her own.
The water eventually rose to a level where the orca could breathe on her own. She was exhausted from the whole ordeal, but rescuers miraculously did enough to provide her with the energy she needed to return to her pod in Hartley Bay.