ROGERS COUNTY, Okla. -- A wildlife rescue group works to release every animal that comes into its care, but Wild Heart Ranch is making an exception for a recuperating baby beaver.
Annette King, who serves as the group's director, said the beaver came into her care in September after someone found it trapped in a boat slip, somehow still keeping his tiny head above water after treading for three days.
"He was exhausted. He was dehydrated. He was starving," King said.
She said his ability to fight back and survive after all that trauma earned him a fitting name. "His name is Rocky because he's a fighter," she said with a smile.
King shared a video with more than 62,000 fans on the Wild Heart Ranch Facebook page of her husband feeding Rocky with a bottle. The video racked up hundreds of thousands of views in a matter of hours, as Rocky developed a large following from people wondering about his progress.
"We were all on pins and needles together to see if this baby was going to win the fight, and he did," King said.
"He's such a fighter, and he was not in good shape when he came in."
She said it's unusual to take in a lone beaver kit this late in the year, so the isolation would have affected his chances of ever returning to the wild.
"Rocky knows no other life than captive, spoiling interaction with people," King said. "He has no friends. His friends are stuffed animals."
The pampering, though, is no problem. King said she got a call not long ago from the Oklahoma Aquarium in Jenks. She gave the aquarium two beaver about a decade ago, but one of them recently died.
"It was very difficult on our staff, but (the beaver) had lived about its natural life span," Teri Bowers, executive director of the Oklahoma Aquarium, said. "It is unfortunate, but the bright side is that we do have this wonderful partnership for animals that might be able to go into the wild that they can come here."
Bowers said she and the staff members are excited that Rocky will soon call the aquarium his new home.
"It may be a while before we actually see him on exhibit," Bowers said, "but that is because we're taking good care and being safe. We'll get him out where the public can see him as soon as we can."
King said she's happy that Rocky will now serve as an ambassador for his species. She said she also hopes that people will even find inspiration from his story because it shows that things can end much better than they began.
"If he can do it, we can, too," King said. "We can all make something of ourselves and get by."
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