Rescued elk calf ‘Cinder’ returned to the wild

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M – A picture went viral after a firefighter rescued an abandoned elk calf after New Mexico’s largest wildfire ever – he was named Cinder.

Now, we check where Cinder is and the woman who is helping wild animals across the state.

“You always worry – was I the best person I could’ve been at physically raising him?” said Dr. Kathleen Ramsay, an Española veterinarian. “I think I did the best I could do.”

Ramsay worries about all animals – wild and domestic. She was tasked with rehabbing Cinder, the elk calf found abandoned in the ashes of the Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon Fire back in May.

“He’s the only elk calf of four that survived the fire,” said Ramsay. 

Cinder was treated for burns alongside Ramsay’s 22-year-old female elk in captivity, and she says then Cinder started to get big and his testosterone started pumping.

“Was beginning to get a little tough for the rehabilitator, which is me,” Ramsay said. 

It was time, Cinder — now 200 pounds — was released back into the wild this weekend.

She says Cinder walked up to a spring started to drink, and then they heard a herd of elk just out of sight.

“I’m almost 100% positive tonight that he’s in with this group that was calling from the top of the little ridge by us,” said Ramsay. “We just laughed knowing that as soon as Cinder made calls that they would respond, and he would be able to join the herd.”

A success and a sign of resiliency.

“Well we’re headed out tomorrow to go get an eagle, so, it’s never boring,” said Ramsay. 

The work to help heal never ends.