Man who rescued bunny from California wildfire speaks out

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Oscar Gonzalez had been driving home from work on Wednesday evening in Sylmar when he saw a wild bunny on Highway 1 running as wildfires crossed the roads igniting the brush and trees. In spite of growing criticism from wildlife experts, Gonzalez, 19, states he saved the rabbit’s life and that of her entire family.

The father of one had been videoed by a news reporter jumping frantically up and down as he ran after the frightened wild bunny crossing Highway 1 in LaConchita as the Thomas fire raged forward. According to the Daily Mail, Gonzalez spotted the white rabbit trying to outrun the flames closing in on it.

“I have animals myself and I didn’t want the poor rabbit to get hurt. I knew it was dangerous, but I couldn’t leave them to burn,” Gonzalez stated.

When he got close enough to the rabbit, Gonzalez said the tiny animal jumped towards him as he scooped it up into his arms and allowed him to carry her to the other side of the highway where there were no flames. He stated the rabbit’s family followed him, even though the little ones could not be seen on the video.

As if no good deed ever goes unpunished, local animal experts have since stated Gonzalez may have made things worse for the bunny and her family. The New York Post reports animals like desert cottontails, common in Southern California, should be left alone  and are typically safe as they burrow underground with their young during fires. California Fish and Wildlife experts urge people to leave the animals alone.

“Fire is something animals have to deal with constantly,” explained CFW spokesperson Peter Tira. “Fire or no fire, just let the animals be.”

The animals are known to regularly run near the flames of a wildfire to find areas where they can safely pass through. Most wildlife is said to survive the fires, however some are occasionally killed or burned. 

Do you think Gonzalez was a hero, or should he have just left the bunny to fend for herself? Did Gonzalez endanger his own life and that of firemen if he had been caught in the blaze? Did the bunny’s family follow Gonzalez and the mother bunny out of the forest? Ask away.





(Photo of Gonzalez screenshot via NbcNews)

Read the previous story and view the video here.

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29 replies
  1. Pamela Garlisch says:

    He’s a hero, it sounds like the people telling him to leave the animals alone chalk it up to oh well some die some live, no big deal, and I don’t agree with that at all

  2. Marsha Squibb says:

    Thank you Oscar!No matter what they say you did the compassionate thing!!! Your a hero to me..No good deed goes unnoticed!!!

  3. Darla says:

    He risked his own life to save an animal (and I don’t care if it’s a dog, cat, rabbit, or skunk – it’s a living, breathing creature of God) – that makes him a hero in my book. Period.

  4. Stephen Phillips says:

    SCREW those government agency “lifers”: There is NOTHING WRONG WITH THE EXERCISE OF COMPASSION!

    Our species could learn to practice that to a much greater degree!

    Kudos to that young man for his courageous actions!

    TELL ME – “experts”: With 80+ mph Santa Ana winds, coming from ALL directions to form whirlwind sheets of flames reaching hundreds of feet into the air… so much so that firefighting aircraft and ground personnel – with all their technology, equipment, expertise, and reasoning/foresight capacity – cannot successfully contend with the dangers presented, how many wildlife creatures do your truly believe could successfully survive such a holocaust?

    Not many, I’ll venture…

    Shame on you, for your “armchair quarterback” criticism of this young hero!

    • Nancy Raymond says:

      Thank you Stephan Phillips – I agree 100% – Oscar risked his life to save a rabbit and should commended for his bravery and kindness – these so called ‘experts’ need to shut up – this young man’s compassion should be applauded not criticized. HE SAVED A LIFE!

  5. pamela bolton says:

    Tell Fish and Wildlife to go suck a lemon!! Thank you, Oscar, for saving their lives. IT IS A BIG DEAL if wildlife perish in fires. Thank you for saving a family that may, or may not, have made it out alive. When you think about all the animals that CAN’T make it out alive, any that are saved is a good thing. This world needs more people with hearts like you. I would have done the same thing REGARDLESS of what Fish and Wildlife says.

  6. Mord says:

    Experts Schmexsperts…if there had been a burrow available for that bunny and the little ones, I think it is safe to say that they would already have been in it as the flames swept past. They were entirely too close to the fire and the panic displayed by the mother rabbit was obvious, so that tells me that their burrow was inaccessible.

    • Mongoose Jones says:

      SORRY: He is NOT the man in the video….he said he released two black and white (ie, not wild) rabbits….MORE likely is that the wild rabbit, badly burned, that was dropped off at a vet’s office, by a man wearing the clothes seen in the video, was the actual man.

  7. Bunny Peters says:

    Bravo to him for compassion. “Bugger off” to all those negative jerks…… If they had been there, they could have done as they wished……

  8. Red says:

    He was a hero…… if they burrow under ground….then they can do it where there is no fire! ALWAYS attempt to help animals!!!!

  9. BA says:

    Oscar You Are A Hero! Regardless of what the experts say you showed compassion and saved a familys life! the fires are out of control with 70- 80 mph winds and those poor bunnys were very close to flames and would have been killed! SO CALLED EXPERTS shame on you – EVERY life matters and its not “some live “some die” oh well…he helped the family go to a safer area and these fish and wildlife “people” actually have the guts to open there mouths OMG…Prayers for all the people and the ANIMALS dealing with this situation….Oscar your a HERO!!!!!!

  10. Aunt Jane says:

    Leave it in the fire! Right that makes sense!
    Sorta like the wildlife people who picked up a young raccoon a man had rescued and raised and killed it!

  11. susispot says:

    I understand the rabbit MAY have been spared IF it had a burrow. But why wasn’t she and her family IN IT? I think the only way he could have caught her is her sheer exaustion from running for her life. He had to follow his heart. I believe most of us would have done the same. I vote he is a hero.

  12. Cheryl says:

    Thank you Oscar – you’re a hero! When the entire world’s on fire, there is no place to “burrow down” as the so-called experts say. They don’t give a damn about animals –


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