A wild rabbit seen in a viral video being saved from a Southern California wildfire has been released back to the wild.
The California Wildlife Center, which had been treating the female cottontail for burns since her December rescue, posted a Facebook video on Wednesday showing her scampering off to freedom.
“While she couldn’t be returned to her exact location due to the deforestation and lack of vegetation, she was released in a nearby area that had plenty of food, water and shelter,” the rehabilitation and conservation group wrote on Facebook.
The organization added that though the rabbit suffered burns to her ears and feet, she has retained her ability to hear and hop.
The rabbit’s initial rescue became national news after a video clip showing a man plucking the bunny from the side of a highway in La Conchita went viral.
Confusion ensued after a man came forward to local media claiming that he was the man in the video, but that turned out to not be true. HuffPost reported the identity of the real rabbit rescuer, 21-year-old Caleb Wadman.
Wadman had been driving near the flames and stopped when he saw the rabbit in distress near the side of the road.
“I just ran out,” Wadman previously told HuffPost.. “I had faith … and that’s when the bunny ran back towards the flames. And I was like, ’No, baby bunny, I’m here. I’m going to take care of you.”
The rescue was largely celebrated by the media and animal lovers, but there was some backlash from critics who argued that the rabbit probably didn’t need help and that intervening with wildlife can often make things worse.
But though experts do generally advise against interfering with wildlife, staff at the California Wildlife Center told HuffPost that in this case, the rabbit was seriously injured and definitely needed medical attention.