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Abbey House Veterinary Hospital via Facebook
Abbey House Veterinary Hospital via Facebook

13 Heartwarming Animal Rescues

Abbey House Veterinary Hospital via Facebook
Abbey House Veterinary Hospital via Facebook

Whether they're on the losing end against an act of nature or the cruelty of human infrastructure, animals can become trapped just about anywhere. Thankfully, though, there are people willing to help them out, even if that means putting themselves at risk in the process. Here are the heartwarming stories of 13 very different animals being rescued from various predicaments in just the past year.

1. LEOPARD RESCUED FROM WELL

About a month ago, a leopard fell into a 60-foot well in the village of Pimpalgaon Siddhanath, near Pune in India. Although the leopard was exhausted from treading water for an extended period of time, it was still too dangerous to simply go down and pluck out of the well. Thankfully, the organization Wildlife SOS responded, led by veterinarian Dr. Ajay. First, they threw in a raft made from sticks tied together so the leopard could hold on and float while they decided what to do next. And how do you trap a cat at a distance? Use a box! Even big cats can’t resist a box, so they lowered a box with a trap door down, and the leopard took the bait. After ascertaining the leopard was in decent health, it was released into the wild.

2. WHITE-TAILED EAGLE RESCUED FROM MUD FLATS

Just a couple of weeks ago, Polish wildlife photographer Krzystof Chomicz spotted a white-tailed eagle floundering in the muddy coastal flats near Swinoujscie, Poland. The bird was pretty far out, but Chomicz ventured out to it, with a safety rope attached while being monitored by local firefighters. The frightened young bird, who might have just been learning to fly, pecked and scratched Chomicz as he carried it back to shore. A wildlife rehabilitation center named the eagle Icarus and nursed it back to health. Icarus has since been sent on to a wildlife refuge in Szczecin.

3. BEAR RESCUED FROM JAR

In July 2016, a bear was spotted near Glenwood Springs, Colorado with its head caught in a gallon-sized plastic cheese-puff container. Local wildlife officials said they received numerous reports of the bear during the previous days, but it wouldn’t stay in one place long enough to be caught. Local bed-and-breakfast owner Jim Hawkins saw the bear more than once, and when he crossed paths with the 2-year-old bear again, he lassoed it with a rope. He and the bear wrestled for a while, before the tired and thirsty animal gave up and climbed a tree. Hawkins tied off the rope so the bear could not leave, and called wildlife authorities. Carbondale District Wildlife Officer John Groves came with a tranquilizer gun, and the men snipped the plastic container off the 100-pound bear’s head before Groves administered an antidote. The bear awoke and ran away, but it is expected to be fine. Hawkins, however, required stitches for the bear claw gashes on his arm.

4. DOG RESCUED FROM FLOODED CANAL

We don’t have a lot of information about this rescue, but video shows that a group of people in Kazakstan pulled together to retrieve a dog from a flooded storm canal. A human chain of five guys were pulled up by even more at the top to get the dog out of the floodwaters sluicing down the steep concrete canal.

5. RACCOON RESCUED FROM STORM GRATE

Just a couple of weeks ago, a raccoon was found hanging from its neck in a storm drain grate in Northampton, Massachusetts, just outside the Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Northampton Police responded and removed the grate, giving the raccoon some relief from supporting his own weight with his neck. An animal control officer arrived and used cooking oil to lubricate the raccoon’s head and wiggle it out of the grate.

A similar story involved a neighborhood cat in Winchendon, Massachusetts, in July. In that incident, police officers used liquid soap to free the cat.

6. DUCKLINGS RESCUED FROM STORM SEWER

The Titirangi Volunteer Fire Brigade in Auckland, New Zealand responded to a case of trapped ducklings in the suburb of Green Bay on May 21. The mother duck stood by, quacking anxiously as firefighter Alex Justice was lowered into the drain head first, while his legs were held by other firefighters. As he pulled the ducklings up one by one, the crew corralled them in a traffic cone to keep them out of the busy road. When they were all returned to the mother duck, she either quacked her thanks to the rescuers or else gave her children a lecture—we’re not sure. The fire brigade was later honored with an award from PETA for their efforts.

7. GOSLING RESCUED FROM BALLOON STRING

This past May, a goose came up to a police car in Cincinnati, Ohio, and started tapping at the door with her beak. After Sergeant James Givens and Specialist Cecilia Charron noticed the goose continuing to look at them while she was walking away, they decided to follow her. The goose led them to a gosling that had become tangled in a string that was tied to a Mothers Day balloon among the litter. The officers called the SPCA, but it would be a while before they could come. So Charron took matters into her own hands and untangled the baby bird while Givens recorded the rescue on his phone. The mother goose stood by patiently until the gosling was freed. The whole scene was unusual—Canadian geese are normally aggressive around humans, even when they don’t have goslings to protect.

8. DEER RESCUED FROM MUD PIT

A construction crew near Tacoma, Washington, arrived at their work site one day in March and discovered not one, but two young black-tailed deer had fallen into a mud pit and couldn’t get themselves out. They used an excavator to gently scoop the terrified deer from the mud and, being careful not to lift the bucket too high, placed them on firmer ground. Bill Davis captured video of the incident. The second deer gave the crew a scare because she took longer to get to her feet. You can see the rescue of the second deer on video as well.

9. GOAT RESCUED FROM UTILITY LINES

Giannis Goulas via YouTube

This goat was just doing his goaty thing near Tempi, Greece, and the next thing he knows, he’s hanging from an overhead cable by his horns. Who knows how he got up there or how long he was hanging before a work crew came to rescue him. Giannis Goulas posted a six-minute video of the rescue effort, which involved ropes and ladders and possibly some profanity if you understand Greek. They managed to get the goat down by pulling him back toward the cliff.

10. CALF RESCUED FROM THIN ICE

A calf born on Kevin Mahoney’s farm in Hope, Indiana, got into a bit of a situation when he managed to slip through the boards of a wooden fence and walk onto an ice-covered pond. Hoofs are not ideal for negotiating ice, and the 3-day-old calf got about 40 feet out on the ice and could no longer keep feet his feet from slipping out from under him. Mahoney responded to the mother cow’s distress calls and tried to pull the calf in with a rope, but it was too short. So the Bartholomew County Sheriff's Office came with a 300-foot rope, which the farmer and deputies stretched across the pond beyond the calf and pulled toward shore in order to “scoot” the calf along. The dangerously chilled calf was taken to the farm’s heated basement to warm up. The calf, since named Chewbacca, survived the incident and has become a family pet, destined to live out his natural life on the farm.

11. KITTEN RESCUED FROM DUMPSTER DRAIN

RSPCA (England & Wales) via Facebook

In January, a tiny kitten got into a large industrial rubbish bin at a parking lot in Wolverhampton, West Midlands, UK. What’s worse, the kitten then put her head through the drain hole at the bottom and became stuck. A passerby noticed the kitten and alerted the RSPCA. Inspector Steve Morrall responded and knew that he would need more help, so he summoned the West Midlands Fire Service. The fire brigade used a small plastic collar coated with a lubricant to gently ease the kitten’s head back through the hole. A veterinarian was standing by in case sedation was needed. The kitten was then examined at a veterinary clinic and deemed healthy outside of an understandably low temperature. The 5-week-old kitten was turned over to the RSPCA, who named her Dusty and put her up for adoption.

12. MOOSE RESCUED FROM BRIDGE SLATS

Club vtt chaleur via Facebook

In December, a moose found itself trapped near Bathurst, New Brunswick after two of its legs slipped into the gap between the boards of a snow-covered bridge made for ATVs. By the time Philippe Doucet came along and found the animal, it had been trapped in that position for so long that icicles had formed on its legs. Doucet called forest rangers and several of his friends to help the moose. They cut two boards from the bridge and pushed the moose’s legs up from beneath. The female moose took some time to recover the use of its legs, but eventually got up and walked away. The ATV federation used the incident to emphasize to its members that spacing between the planks of a bridge should be small enough to prevent such accidents. See more pictures at Facebook.

13. FERRET RESCUED FROM FENCE

Abbey House Veterinary Hospital via Facebook

This ferret was found hopelessly tangled in a fence in Ossett, West Yorkshire, UK, last November. He had gotten caught in his midsection, but instead of backing out, he tried returning to the other side through another opening in the fence, leaving him stuck in two places. The RSPCA couldn’t free him, so they called the fire brigade. Firefighters cut a section of the fence around the ferret and took it—fence and all—to Abbey House Veterinary Hospital. Veterinarian Laura Smith freed his head from one opening, but his midsection was wedged tightly. The ferret, later named Whoops, had to be anesthetized while the doctor and assistants cut the fencing away. Once they were sure that Whoops was okay, he was sent to South Cheshire Ferret Rescue, where he was adopted.

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Atlanta Shelters Give Pups a Temporary Home for the Holidays
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The holidays are looking a little brighter for adoptable dogs from two animal shelters in Atlanta, Georgia. As ABC News reports, a new program called Home for the Pawlidays is providing temporary homes to longer-term residents of Fulton County Animal Services and DeKalb County Animal Services for the week of Thanksgiving.

The initiative was organized by Atlanta's LifeLine Animal Project, a local group dedicated to providing healthcare and homes to shelter dogs. The dogs that were chosen for the project may be older, have special health needs, or other issues that make it more difficult to find them forever homes.

But from November 18 to 25, the dogs are getting to spend time away from the shelter and in the homes of loving foster families.

“We were thinking, everyone gets a break from work, and they should get a break from the shelter,” LifeLine’s public relations director Karen Hirsch told ABC News.

Some caretakers have already fallen in love with their four-legged house guests. Foster Heather Koth told ABC that she hadn’t been considering adoption, but after meeting Missy the shelter dog, she now plans to foster her until she has a permanent home or possibly adopt the dog herself.

And for the dogs that can’t be kept by their temporary owners, just a week of quality playtime and sleeping in a real bed can make a huge impact. You can check out photos of the pets who are benefiting from the program this week below.

[h/t ABC News]

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25 Things You Didn't Know About Turkeys
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Most of us probably associate turkey with a sumptuous Thanksgiving spread, but there’s a lot more to the big bird than how delicious it is alongside your grandma’s famous cranberry sauce. Here are a few bits of knowledge you can drop over the dinner table—when you’re not fighting with your family over white meat or dark meat, that is.

1. THE NORTH AMERICAN WILD TURKEY POPULATION WAS ALMOST WIPED OUT.

Wild turkey
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Wild turkeys once roamed the continent en masse, but by the early 20th century, the entire U.S. population had been whittled down to a mere 30,000 due to hunting and the destruction of their woodland habitats. In the 1940s, many of the remaining birds were relocated to parts of the U.S. with recovering woodlands so the turkeys could repopulate. Despite these efforts, by 1973, there were still just 1.5 million wild turkeys in North America. Today, that number is up to about 6 million.

2. TURKEY APPENDAGES ARE LIKE MOOD RINGS.

Wild turkey
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The dangly appendage that hangs from the turkey’s forehead to the beak is called a snood. The piece that hangs from the chin is the wattle. These fleshy flaps can change color according to the turkey’s physical and mental health—when a male turkey (called a tom, of course) is trying to attract a mate, the snood and wattle turn bright red. If the turkey is scared, the appendages take on a blue tint. And if the turkey is ailing, they become very pale.

3. TURKEYS CAN FLY.

Wild turkey in flight
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Well, domestic turkeys that are bred to be your Thanksgiving centerpiece can’t. They’re too heavy. But wild turkeys can, reportedly at speeds up to 55 miles per hour. Though they don’t go very far—usually less than 100 yards—wild turkeys are among the five largest flying birds in the world. They’re in good company: Others on the list include the swan and the albatross.

4. THEY CAN ALSO SWIM.

Wild turkey drinking water
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Turkeys don’t swim often, it seems, but they can, by tucking their wings in, spreading their tails, and kicking. In 1831, John James Audubon wrote, “I have been told by a friend that a person residing in Philadelphia had a hearty laugh on hearing that I had described the Wild Turkey as swimming for some distance, when it had accidentally fallen into the water. But be assured, kind reader, almost every species of land-bird is capable of swimming on such occasions, and you may easily satisfy yourself as to the accuracy of my statement by throwing a Turkey, a Common Fowl, or any other bird into the water.”

5. TURKEY POOP CAN TELL YOU A LOT.

A handler picking up turkey poop at the White House Turkey Pardon in 2013.

The next time you happen across turkey poop—which happens all the time, we know—take a closer look at it. If the droppings are shaped like a “J,” they were left there by a male turkey. Spiral-shaped poo? The culprit is female.

The citizens of Pilot Rock, Oregon, probably don’t much care about the shape of the stuff, but more about the quantity of it. Earlier this year, Pilot Rock turned to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) for help combating a flock of 50 to 70 wild turkeys that would periodically invade the town, destroy gardens, perch in trees, and poop on pickup trucks. The ODFW offered several solutions, but as far as we know the turkeys still rule the roost at Pilot Rock.

6. TURKEY PROBABLY WASN'T ON THE PILGRIMS' MENU.

A recreation of the Pilgrims' first settlement
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Thanks to historical records, we know for sure that the Wampanoag brought deer, and the English brought fowl—likely ducks and geese.

7. BEN FRANKLIN DIDN'T REALLY WANT THE TURKEY TO BE OUR NATIONAL BIRD.

A drawing of Ben Franklin.
Getty / Hulton Archive / Handout

You may have heard that at least one of our Founding Fathers lobbied hard to make the turkey our national symbol instead of the noble bald eagle. That’s not quite true, but in a letter to his daughter, he did expound on the character of each, which may be where the rumor got started:

“For my own part I wish the Bald Eagle had not been chosen the Representative of our Country. He is a Bird of bad moral Character. He does not get his Living honestly. You may have seen him perched on some dead Tree near the River, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the Labour of the Fishing Hawk; and when that diligent Bird has at length taken a Fish, and is bearing it to his Nest for the Support of his Mate and young Ones, the Bald Eagle pursues him and takes it from him.

“With all this injustice, he is never in good case but like those among men who live by sharping & robbing he is generally poor and often very lousy. Besides he is a rank coward: The little King Bird not bigger than a Sparrow attacks him boldly and drives him out of the district. He is therefore by no means a proper emblem for the brave and honest Cincinnati of America who have driven all the King birds from our country…

“I am on this account not displeased that the Figure is not known as a Bald Eagle, but looks more like a Turkey. For the Truth the Turkey is in Comparison a much more respectable Bird, and withal a true original Native of America… He is besides, though a little vain & silly, a Bird of Courage, and would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his Farm Yard with a red Coat on.”

8. ANOTHER TURKEY FAN: ALEXANDER HAMILTON.

Portrait of Alexander Hamilton
Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Yep, A. Ham liked turkey. In fact, he thought eating turkey was practically a god-given right, and once remarked that "No citizen of the U.S. shall refrain from turkey on Thanksgiving Day."

9. TEDDY ROOSEVELT BELIEVED THE BIRDS WERE CUNNING PREY.

Teddy Roosevelt on a hunting trip in Africa.
Getty / Hulton Archive / Stringer

Ol’ TR may have been accustomed to hunting big game, but wild turkeys held a special place in his heart. He believed they were every bit as challenging to hunt as deer. In his 1893 book Hunting Trips of a Ranchman and the Wilderness Hunter, he wrote, “The wild turkey really deserves a place beside the deer; to kill a wary old gobbler with the small-bore rifle, by fair still-hunting, is a triumph for the best sportsman.”

10. WILD TURKEYS HAVE BETTER VISION THAN YOU DO.

Close up of wild turkey's head
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Their fantastic vision is probably one reason Teddy Roosevelt found turkeys such a challenge to hunt. They can detect motion from many yards away, have vision three times greater than 20/20, and have peripheral vision of about 270 degrees. Ours, comparatively, is only 180. And although turkeys can’t see in 3D, they can see UVA light, which helps them better identify predators, prey, mates, and food.

11. THE TOP TURKEY-PRODUCING STATE MAY SURPRISE YOU.

Domesticated turkeys on a farm
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You may know Minnesota for producing Prince, the Mall of America, and Target. But we also have the Land of 10,000 Lakes to thank for our Thanksgiving turkeys. According to the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association, approximately 46-48 million turkeys are produced in Minnesota every year. In fact, it’s where the turkey that receives a presidential pardon hails from every year. Speaking of which ...

12. THE PRESIDENTIAL TURKEY PARDON MAY DATE BACK TO ABE LINCOLN.

President Barack Obama pardons a turkey in 2011.
Getty / Mark Wilson / Staff

Officially, the tradition of the sitting president of the United States pardoning his Thanksgiving turkey dates back to John F. Kennedy, who decided to let his gift from the National Turkey Federation off the hook. But he wasn't the first president to let a turkey go free: When Abraham Lincoln’s son Tad befriended one of the birds intended for Christmas dinner in 1863, kind-hearted Abe granted it a stay of execution.

13. THE FIRST TV DINNER MEAL: THANKSGIVING LEFTOVERS

Thanksgiving TV dinner
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In 1953, Swanson ended up with 10 train cars full of frozen turkeys—260 tons of them—when an overzealous buyer ordered too many turkeys for the holidays. Salesman Gerry Thomas solved the problem by ordering 5,000 aluminum trays and setting up an assembly line of workers to scoop dressing, peas, and sweet potatoes into the compartments. Slices of turkey rounded out the meal, which Swanson sold for 98 cents. The idea was a hit: The following year, 10 million turkey TV dinners were sold.

14. NATIONAL TURKEY LOVERS’ MONTH ISN’T WHEN YOU THINK.

Grilled meats on a silver tray
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Everyone eats turkey in November and December, so there’s not a lot of need for extra poultry promotion during those months. If you want to celebrate National Turkey Lovers’ Month, you’ll have to do it in June with some turkey brats and burgers on the grill.

15. THE TURKEY YOU’LL BE EATING IS PROBABLY ABOUT 18 WEEKS OLD.

Roasted turkey on a platter
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That’s how long it typically takes the birds to grow to maturity, which is when they’re usually slaughtered.

16. THERE WAS ALMOST A TURKEY SIDEKICK IN POCAHONTAS.

Loren Javier via Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0

At one point, Disney thought Pocahontas needed a little comic relief, so they hired John Candy to voice a wisecracking woodland fowl named Red Feather. Sadly, Candy passed away while the logistics were being worked out, so animators dropped the turkey entirely and opted for a clever raccoon named Meeko.

17. NOT ALL TURKEYS GOBBLE.

Close up shot of a wild turkey
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If you hear a turkey making the distinctive noise we all associate with them, then you’re hearing a male communicating with his lady friends up to a mile away. Females make a clicking sound instead of a gobble.

18. IF YOU DON’T EAT TURKEY AT THANKSGIVING, YOU’RE IN THE MINORITY.

A black and white photo of a family gathering around the table as the mother brings in a turkey.
Getty / Evans / Stringer

According to the National Turkey Federation, 88 percent of Americans eat turkey at Thanksgiving.

19. TURKEY CRAVINGS CAUSED A SPIKE IN KFC SALES IN JAPAN.

A large Kentucky Fried Chicken sign
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When KFC opened its first stores in Japan in the 1970s, the company was surprised to find that sales soared during the holidays. The phenomenon stymied executives since most of Japan celebrates neither Thanksgiving nor Christmas. It was later discovered that foreigners craving holiday turkey had decided that KFC’s chicken was the next best thing. After the company figured this out, they played up the association with their “Kurisumasu ni wa kentakkii!” campaign—“Kentucky for Christmas.” It worked on tourists and locals alike, and today, Christmas Eve is still the highest-selling day for KFC Japan.

20. THERE IS PROPER TURKEY TERMINOLOGY.

A flock of turkeys on a farm with one staring directly into the camera.
Getty / Cate Gillon / Staff

You probably know that a group of turkeys is a flock, but they can also properly be called a “rafter.” And should you want to call baby turkeys something a little more precise, you can call them “poults.”

21. THE MAYA USED TURKEYS AS SACRIFICIAL OFFERINGS.

A Maya tripod plate featuring a bird
Los Angeles County Museum of Art via Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Archaeologists have found vases dating from 250-800 CE that have turkeys depicted on them. According to University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee art historian Andrea Stone, "turkeys were quintessential animals for feasting and for sacrificial offerings." The Maya even crafted tamales shaped like the birds.

22. DURING THE ‘70S, YOU COULD CALL JULIA CHILD FOR TURKEY ADVICE ON THANKSGIVING.

Julia Child in her kitchen in 1978
Lynn Gilbert via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 4.0

Even when she was at peak popularity, the famous chef refused to remove her phone number from public listings. According to friends, complete strangers would call Child on Thanksgiving to ask for advice on cooking the perfect turkey. Julia always answered the phone, and typically told callers whatever they needed to hear to get them to relax and enjoy the holiday. She even told some amateur cooks that turkey was best served cold anyway.

23. BIG BIRD IS A TURKEY.

Big Bird and Elmo at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Getty / Matthew Peyton / Stringer

Well, according to Sesame Street, he’s actually a canary—but his plumage makes him a turkey. The good people at American Plume & Fancy Feather provide Sesame Street with several thousand turkey feathers per costume to make sure Big Bird looks soft and fluffy.

24. THE BIRD IS NAMED AFTER THE COUNTRY.

Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey
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But the whole thing was a mistake. Centuries ago, the English began to import a rather tasty bird, now known as a helmeted guinea fowl, from Madagascar. But they didn’t know it was from Africa. Because it was imported to Europe from merchants in Turkey, the English believed the birds were also Turkish.

Later, when the Spanish arrived in the New World, they discovered Meleagris gallopavo—the wild turkey. It was delicious, so they started importing it back to Europe. Europeans thought it tasted like the “turkey” guinea fowl they had been enjoying, so they called it the same thing.

25. WHAT, EXACTLY, IS DARK MEAT?

Roasted turkey legs on a piece of butcher paper
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It’s just a different type of muscle than white meat. White meat is the result of glycogen, which doesn't need much oxygen from the blood because the muscles it fuels only require short bursts of energy. Dark meat, however, is found on wings, thighs, and drumsticks—muscles that are used for long periods of time and require more sustainable energy. It’s made dark by the proteins that convert fat into energy.

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