If you've been anywhere near the internet over the past couple of days, you've probably seen at least a glimpse of the frightening and yet heartwarming video in which a man saves a rabbit in front of a backdrop of wildfires. Now, however, there are two men claiming to have saved the rabbit from the California wildfires in the viral video — and it's very unclear what to think about the whole incident.
When an ABC News' affiliate in L.A. first caught the footage on camera, the hero in question declined to be interviewed. This, of course, is in keeping with the general stereotype of the good Samaritan, who doesn't do good deeds for any recognition. On Friday, then, NBC reported that they had spoken to the girlfriend of a man, Oscar Gonzales, who she claimed had risked everything to save the rabbit's life. They then interviewed Gonzales, who claimed that he had seen a white rabbit running next to a road nearly engulfed in the Thomas Fire and then pulled over to try to get the rabbit to safety. After the rabbit did eventually run over to him, he said, he moved it to a safer spot and then let it run away.
It's a nice story — but the details don't perfectly line up.
After publishing the initial article about Gonzales on Friday, then, NBC amended the piece and published another article which featured an interview with a different man, Caleb Wadnan, who NBC now says is the real hero who rescued the rabbit. NBC enhanced the images in the original video, which they said gave them ample reason to believe that the man in the video was not Gonzales, and was instead Wadnan.
"I just ran after it," Wadnan told NBC. "I had a lot of faith in me at the time-being. So I was just focused on the life at hand rather than the flames around me."
One of the elements that put Gonzales' account into question was the fact that a local veterinary hospital, Conejo Valley Veterinary Hospital, told the Huffington Post that they were caring for the rabbit that had been rescued from the flames — and it wasn't a white rabbit, like Gonzales had said, but instead a wild cottontail rabbit, which are a light brown color. Furthermore, Gonzales had said that he simply left the rabbit he rescued in a safer spot — meaning that it's unlikely that the same rabbit would have ended up in a vet's office.
A few more issues popped up with his story. A spokesman for the California Wildlife Center also confirmed the veterinary hospital's story, saying that they were now caring for the rabbit in question. Gonzales also changed his story when he gave an interview for the Daily Mail, when he said that rather than just saving the one rabbit, he had rescued the whole "rabbit family." However, Gonzalez and his girlfriend are sticking with their story and maintain he's the one who saved the bunny.
Wadnan, to his credit, also offered photo evidence that he took a rabbit and dropped it off at a veterinary hospital — so it appears as though the evidence is lining up on his side. That's not to say that Gonzales couldn't have also saved a rabbit — but it simply appears as though Wadnan could have been the hero in this particular viral video.
Just in case you haven't heard it enough, heroic though these men are, you'd better not try to follow their example. If you're escaping from a wildfire, it's not a good idea to stop to save any animal, no matter how adorable it is. While this particular bunny is now benefitting from medical attention, the danger that the man put himself in — and the potential danger that rescuers would have been in, had something happened to that man — simply was not worth it.