These pups cried wolf — and it saved their lives.
Firefighters battling the massive Funny River fire in Alaska Tuesday rescued five orphaned wolf pups after they heard yipping coming from a den near the edge of the blaze, officials said.
Officials who raced to the area on Kenai Peninsula south of Anchorage found one of the pups emerging out of a small den near a fire line that had been bulldozed in the wilderness to contain the blaze, now in its 10th day, Kenai National Wildlife Refuge Deputy Manager Stephen Miller said.
“We were trying to figure out how we were going to get our large bodies in the small hole,” Miller said. “One of the smaller firefighters agreed to go in there, and he ended up getting the four out.”
The pups are being treated at the Alaska Zoo in Anchorage, where they are in quarantine. All had porcupine wounds, likely caused when one of the spiny rodents tried to barge into the cubs’ den in the first few days of the fire, Miller said.
Two of the pups are on antibiotics, and two are being treated with antibiotic drops because of quill puncture wounds near their eyes, Alaska Zoo Development Director Jill Myer told NBCNews.
“They are eating and sleeping like champions, but we are keeping an eye on them,” Myer said. “They’re not out of the woods yet.”
The pups’ future is unclear. They will remain at the Alaska Zoo for the next few months, Myer said, but state wildlife officials will eventually find them a new home. The zoo specializes in rescue and rehabilitation and most of its animals are orphans, but it doesn’t have room for the wolves.
The human-sparked wildfire, which began on May 19, covers about 200,000 acres and was at 46 percent containment on Thursday, Miller said.