Last week, near the Sindi dam on the Pärnu river, in Estonia, a group of workers noticed a dog trapped in the freezing river. The workers rushed to the aid of the dog, and decided to rescue the trapped animal, which required them to clear a path through the ice in order to bring the dog to safety.
The workers took the animal to a nearby animal clinic and found that it was actually a wolf, not a dog.
Rando Kartsepp, Robin Sillamäe, and Erki Väli, three of the men who assisted in the rescue described the situation to an Estonian newspaper.
Kartsepp said “It was swimming on its own, we cleared a path for it through the ice. We had to carry him over the slope. He weighed a fair bit. It was a bit difficult because the ice did not carry us and we could not get away from the shore.”
“He was calm, slept on my legs. When I wanted to stretch them, he raised his head for a moment,” he said.
Kartsepp said that the animal, “had an unbelievable strong will and reached the shore by breaking through the ice,” along with the help of the three workers, who were also breaking through the ice in the cold water.
The men took then took the animal and wrapped it in a towel before rushing it to a warm car. The wolf was shivering and had ice all over its fur.
The Estonian Animal Protection Union offered to pay for all of the medical bills, and made a post to Facebook thanking the workers.
They post read:
When we got to the shore, the poor wolf was very exhausted, hypothermic and frozen. Young men quickly ran into the car, brought a towel and dried the animal. Then he took him to a warm car and called the animal protection Union. It was also a challenge for the union to think about what to do in the morning at 8 with a dog in [distress], who could also have been a wolf.
“We are so happy for the outcome of the story, and wish to thank all the participants – especially these men who rescued the wolf and the doctors of the clinic who were not afraid to treat and nurture the wild animal,” EUPA said.
Experts say that the wolf was so docile because it had low blood pressure from all of the cold. The vets put the wold in a cage while it was recovering just in case it got aggressive once he got his strength back.
Luckily, the wolf made a full recovery in about 24 hours and was released back into the wild. The national environmental agency fitted the wolf with a GPS collar so its progress can be tracked by researchers.
Marju Kõivupuu, an Estonian folklorist said that the wolf is an important part of Estonian culture.
“Wolf is a natural part of our environment and leaves no one indifferent. The wolf is one of the most popular animals in our folk tales, there are over 500 names and stories written down about this animal. The wolf is a survivor. It is brave for protecting its family and territory from other wolves. Wolves respect their parents and love their family. Wolves appreciate privacy – they want to be left alone. The wolf is also charismatic. All these qualities are the reasons why the wolf is suitable for symbolising Estonia and Estonians as a national animal,” Kõivupuu said.
It is estimated that there are roughly 200 wolves in Estonia, split between 20-25 packs.
Last year, the wolf was picked as Estonia’s national animal by a group of nature organizations.
The Sindi Dam is in the process of being removed after it was determined that the dam was blocking fish migration. In the largest national project of its kind, the Sindi Dam is being demolished after nearly 150 years of existence. It is not clear whether these workers were a part of the Dam removal project or if they were working on another nearby site.
The demolition of the Sindi Dam started in the beginning of October 2018, and researchers say that a significant space has already been cleared to allow for the fall migration of salmon.