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How California rescued exotic animals during the wildfires

  • Erik Olsen
By Erik Olsen

West Coast Video Correspondent

This article is more than 2 years old.

Last week, the Los Angeles Creek Fire swept through a narrow, shrubby canyon, threatening a 160-acre private animal sanctuary that’s home to 400 animals, including 40 chimpanzees, a Russian brown bear, and an assortment of leopards, tigers and mountain lions.

“We were afraid that the whole place was going to burn,” said Martine Colette, owner of The Wildlife Waystation. “In fact, we believed it was going to burn.”

As clouds of smoke descended into the canyon, Ms. Colette and her team evacuated more than 100 of the most threatened animals. They left a team of firefighters battling the blaze from the ridge above the sanctuary, trying to save the animals left behind.

The firefighters succeeded, and the video above chronicles the moment sanctuary staff return, bringing back two leopards, a tiger, several mountain lions and other evacuated animals.

“I’m really relieved to be bringing them home where they are safe,” said Rebecca Walser, the Waystation’s chief veterinarian.

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