Some animals are not meant to be kept in captivity. They need the freedom, and space of the wilderness where they can live according to their true nature and instincts. But nevertheless, sometimes animals are either born in captivity, or are rescued after injury, and have to be nursed back to health before returning to the wild.
The term “reintroduction” refers to the deliberate release of a species into the wild, from captivity or relocated from other areas where the species survives. A species that needs reintroduction is usually one whose existence has become threatened or endangered in the wild. Sometimes, wildlife experts have to focus on a specific endangered species in order to prevent it from going extinct. The Siberian tiger is one species that has bounced back from only 40 known individual tigers in the 1940s to around 500 as recently as 2007.
Imagine how many species would probably be extinct today if it wasn’t for the efforts of biologists and wildlife experts in helping them breed, and relocate to areas where they can thrive?
In order to educate the public about endangered species, many attempts at reintroduction are filmed, and the animal is later tracked so its progress can be monitored. Here are 10 amazing videos of animals being released into the wild.
10. Siberian Tiger
In this video, two filmmakers from the International Fund for Animal Welfare have captured the release of a rare Siberian tiger back into the wild of Eastern Russia. What is really unique about this video is that it was filmed using a high-speed, high definition camera that allows the few seconds of footage captured to be slowed down so we can see every detail. By allowing people to see how beautiful these tigers are up close, the filmmakers hope to encourage everyone to lend a hand in helping protect this and many other endangered species.
Peni the orangutan and her mother were rescued by International Animal Rescue after being captured and tortured by local villagers in Indonesia. Although Peni’s mother succumbed to her injuries, she was able to be rehabilitated and released back into the wild after 3 years at IAR’s rescue center. While healing, Peni was able to create bonds with other orangutans, and grow beyond the trauma she experienced as an infant. A team of people trekked across miles of swampy rainforest to get Peni to the ideal place for release. Once let out of her crate, Peni immediately started climbing trees, and searching for food, proving that her 3 years away from the wild did not dull her instincts.
Although the lions in this video are not technically being released into the wild, they are definitely entering an environment that is a lot healthier than the place they grew up. After being held in captivity in a Romanian zoo, these lions were rescued by an organization called Four Paws and taken to a South African sanctuary. The sanctuary, Lion’s Rock, is fenced in, but it still allows the lions to live as if they are in the wild. They are free to roam, and hunt and follow their instincts. The lion cubs from the zoo suffered from malnutrition which has clearly stunted their growth, but the sanctuary is meant to help them rehabilitate and hopefully end up back in the wild for real one day.
7. Pygmy Killer Whale
Tony, the pygmy killer whale was found stranded on the Tanjung Aru beach in Malaysia in 2012. She was moved to Shangri-la’s Tanjung Aru Resort (STAR)’s swimming enclosure so her recuperation could be monitored by the Sabah wildlife department. Tony was released back into the ocean 36 hours later with the help of many volunteers. Marine biologist in charge, Lindsay Porter said that many whales beach themselves because they are seriously ill, but Tony seemed happy to be back in the ocean, and she swam away from rescuers minutes after getting back into the water.
6. Wounda the Chimpanzee
Wounda the chimpanzee got her named because she was so close to dying when she was rescued. When Jane Goodall’s Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Center in the Republic of Congo rescued Wounda she was seriously ill and very close to death. But she was nursed back to full health over several years, and was the 15th chimp to be taken to the island sanctuary that serves as a safe place for animals to thrive, but still be monitored. The best part of the video is when Wounda realizes she is back where she belongs and without hesitation she turns around and hugs Goodall is if to say, “thank you for saving my life”.
Florida bobcats, Copter and Gator were rescued as kittens and rehabilitated by organization Big Cat Rescue. Once they were considered able to return to the wild, the Big Cat Rescue team drove both bobcats out to a 5000 acre natural habitat in Florida to be released. As soon as Gator’s crate was open, he ran straight to the forest, while Copter needed a little more encouragement. Both bobcats were found abandoned and malnourished, but Big Cat Rescue was able to rehabilitate them and get them back to the wild where they belong.
This video shows a tiny monkey who realizes he is not ready to be let loose in the wild to fend for himself. The little guy was rescued from a group of animal traffickers in Jingdong county, in south-western China’s Yunnan province. These monkeys are a protected species in China, but that doesn’t stop hunters from capturing them to sell on the black market. This monkey’s rescuer explains that he has learned to depend on humans for everything, and is just not ready to venture out on his own, so he hugs the rescuers leg for dear life. They planned to take the monkey back to the shelter, and spend more time rehabilitating him before trying to release him in the future.
3. Bard Owl
Opi the owl was hit by a car in Halifax, Nova Scotia when he was only 4 months old. A passing truck driver picked him up off the road and he ended up in an animal shelter where he was treated for his injuries. He recovered from head trauma and a broken leg quickly. Hope for Wildlife, the organization that helped Opi and many other injured Canadian animals works to educate the public about the importance of protecting wildlife, and develop ideas for continued conservation of Nova Scotia’s animal population.
2. Sea Turtles
Olive Ridley sea turtles are classified as an endangered species because of their declining numbers. Their eggs are often stolen right from the nest and sold in markets in Mexico alongside turtle meat, even though it is illegal to do so. Officials in the Mexican government decided to take matters into their own hands by removing turtle eggs from their nest themselves and allowing them to hatch in a facility, before releasing the young sea turtles into the wild to grow up and breed. 4000 sea turtle hatchlings were released into the ocean on Mexico’s Pacific coast, but experts expect only 400 to survive to be adults, due to threats to their habitat and natural predators.
1. Bald Eagle
The Wildlife Center of Virginia, a leading teaching and research hospital for native wildlife, released a young bald eagle at Claytor Lake State Park, and took the opportunity to educate the crowd that had gathered about bald eagles. The species went from being an endangered species, to a threatened species, to having a thriving population thanks in part to wildlife experts and the work of charities that help protect wildlife populations.