Top ten animal moments of 2013 that will make you go “awwwww…”

We’ll admit it: We tug on your heartstrings every once in a while. From a gigantic mother rhinoceros to a small kitten named Rapunzel, animals sometimes need our help, and animal welfare organizations like IFAW try to provide help whenever—and wherever—needed.

This is the second of two reviews highlighting the best moments of the year.

  1. Rescued Rhinos Give Birth in India’s Manas National Park

For the first time in India, three rhinos—rescued, rehabilitated and released into Manas National Park by IFAW/Wildlife Trust of India staff—have given birth to calves, an indication that the animals are thriving in the wild.

The new mothers, named Jamuna, Ganga and Mainao by their caretakers, were rescued as orphans from raging floods in Kaziranga National Park in 2004 by the Assam Forest Department.

  1. Amur Tiger Leaps to Freedom in Russia

Orphaned in the winter of 2012, an Amur tiger named “Cinderella” was raised at a rehabilitation facility near Vladivostok.

IFAW provided funds to feed, shelter and monitor this female tiger through her rehabilitation and successful—and extremely photogenic—release in June 2013, the first and only of a rescued tiger cub in Russia.

  1. A Stray Dog from Cozumel Finds Forever Home

Covered in used motor oil and little more than skin and bones, a stray dog was rescued by IFAW staff during a trip to the remote, south east side of Cozumel.

With the help of our local partner, the Humane Society of Cozumel Island (HSCI), we took the dog we fondly named Coconut in for immediate care.

After testing positive for heartworm and undergoing a few months of recovery, he has now found a new home here on Cape Cod, where IFAW is headquartered.

  1. Rescued Elephant Sighted More Than 750 Days After Release

Tinku, an elephant that IFAW-WTI rehabilitated and released two years ago, was sighted in a remote area of Manas National Park in Assam, India this year.

Our dedicated staff at the center had bottle-fed Tinku, provided daily veterinary care and looked after the calf’s every need for more than three years before he and four other elephant calves were moved to Manas National Park in February of 2011 and released back to the wild.

  1. Quilts Supporting Lily Presented to Savior Animal Clinic

Two years to the day after Lily was rescued from being buried alive because she was causing a “nuisance,” there was cause to celebrate her life at IFAW’s Mdzananda Animal Clinic in Cape Town, South Africa.

IFAW sent thousands of small swatches of pink and orange fabric to supporters, inviting them to write messages of love and support.

After they were returned some were used to make padded quilts to line the Mdzananda’s dog and cat patient baskets and cages, while others pieces were made into a large “display quilt” which has been hung in the consulting room at the clinic.

  1. Patricia the Possum, an Australian Wildfire Victim, Recovers on Apple Sauce

The fires in the Blue Mountains of Australia this year have been devastating to people, properties, animals and wildlife, including many possums suffering from burns to the feet, nose, ears and tail. IFAW teams cared for many of them, providing topical treatments, pain relief and antibiotics.

  1. Cute Orphan Bear Cubs Frolic in the Water

IFAW’s Bear Rescue Center welcomed this summer two bear cubs brought in for rehabilitation. 

In mid-May, a man was driving a car somewhere on a road between Moscow and St. Petersburg when he noticed something dark on the side. He u-turned and saw two small bear cubs that didn’t run away as he approached them. The bear cubs were so emaciated that the man could easily take them with him in his car.

Though the bear cubs were approximately the same age as the other ten already in care, and socialised with the existing brood right away.

  1. Rapunzel the Kitten is Rescued from a Sewer Pipe in Playa del Carmen

After falling 34 feet down a PVC sewer pipe, a small kitten named Rapunzel was rescued.

More than 24 hours waiting underground and 3 hours of continuous effort, the kitten finally came out.

The kitten was about eight weeks old and hypothermic from her time in the PVC pipe.

While Rapunzel’s struggle and dramatic rescue will be hard to forget, the most important thing is that she was ok.

She was put up for adoption and found a forever home through IFAW’s partner organization in Playa del Carmen, Coco’s Cat Rescue.

  1. Newborn Otter Pups Rescued in India

The three smooth coated otter pups had been displaced from their den during the floods in India and were found floating on a water hyacinth back in September. The youngest residents at the IFAW Wildlife Rescue Center started nursing back to health even before they were able to open their eyes.

  1. Tiger Cubs in Russian Rehab Play Their Own Games

The tiger cub called Ustin came up with a new game where he unties the trail camera and plays with the cord used to tie it up. Kuzya and Borya also started to use the double level grotto as a playground.

  1. (BONUS) Orphan Bears Thrive in the Ecuadorean Clouds

Eight month-old Azul was one of three orphaned Andean bears—also called spectacled bears because of the white markings on their faces—in rehabilitation at the Andean Bear Conservation Project (ABCP) in Ecuador.

Azul and his two enclosure mates, "Mazhavito" and "Sugaua,” are important survivors of a species vulnerable to extinction.


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Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
Director, France and Francophone Africa
Faye Cuevas, Esq.
Senior Vice President
Grace Ge Gabriel, Regional Director, Asia
Regional Director, Asia
James Isiche, Regional Director, East Africa
Regional Director, East Africa
Jason Bell, Vice President for Conservation and Animal Welfare
Vice President for Conservation and Animal Welfare
Matt Collis, Director, International Policy
Director, International Policy
Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
Consulting Senior Advisor to the CEO on Strategic Partnerships & Philanthropy