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)
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