Milton Rodrigues was on his way to work when he came across a dangerous animal in dire need of help. The creature in question was so weak that its life seemed to be hanging in the balance. So Rodrigues disregarded his own safety to go and lend a hand.
Rodrigues is a truck driver who lives in Santa Helena de Goiás, Brazil. In 2015 he was on his way to load his truck in Primavera do Leste when he came across a surprising sight. As he was cruising down the highway, an unusual animal crossed the road in front of his vehicle.
The encounter was so uncommon, in fact, that Rodrigues decided to stop his truck and investigate further. He hoped to capture a picture of the fearsome animal before no doubt continuing on his journey to work. However, as the driver brought his vehicle to a stop, the creature did something unexpected.
It moved towards the truck and then crawled beneath the vehicle. It seemed the animal was in such desperate need of shelter from the 100+° F heat that it was willing to crawl under the nearest form of shade, which on this occasion happened to be Rodrigues’ truck.
It was clear to see that the animal was in a vulnerable state, which surprised Rodrigues as the creature in question was a maned wolf. This large wolf is native to South America and can usually be found in the grasslands of Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay and Peru.
Maned wolves are easily recognizable thanks to their distinctive black mane and long legs. The animals’ signature tufts around their faces typically stand on end and are used to make them look bigger when threatened. The wolves also give off an unusual smell, which has led to them being given the moniker “skunk wolf.”
However, sightings of the maned wolf are quite rare, hence Rodrigues’ initial excitement. The creature is categorized as near-threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, while the Brazilian authorities regard the wolf as a vulnerable species.
In the past, people feared the maned wolf because they believed the animal would prey on livestock such as chickens, sheep and cattle. However, that fear has proven to be unfounded. In fact, the animals are shy in character and tend to flee when scared.
Although maned wolves have been hunted in the past – particularly for their eyes, which were seen as lucky charms in some parts of Brazil – today one of the biggest threats to the animals comes from cars. So, it was important for Rodrigues to move the animal he’d found off the road to prevent it from being run over.
However, judging by the animal’s condition, it was clear to see that the wolf wasn’t going anywhere. As a result, Rodrigues decided to take matters into his own hands. He put the animal into his truck and decided to drive it to some nearby woodland.
The plan was to release the wolf back into the wild, where it would hopefully be safe from traffic. However, before Rodrigues could let it go, the animal needed some basic TLC. So, the truck driver sat down beside the creature and showed it the kind side of human nature.
Without any concern for his safety, Rodrigues began giving the wolf a much needed drink of water from a blue work helmet. In video footage from the encounter, the driver can be seen carefully attending to the exhausted animal, who is no doubt grateful to its carer.
The wolf laps up the water as Rodrigues pours it into its mouth. While the trucker continues to help the creature, he tells his co-worker Sebastiao that people should treat animals in need with compassion and care.
In particular, Rodrigues takes aim at local hunters in the area, claiming they don’t care for native wildlife. “This is how you do it. You all are worthless, those that killed those panthers. This is how you act around nature, you help it, instead of ruining it,” he fumes.
Commenting on the wolf, Rodrigues adds, “You can see here how thirsty he is. A wild animal like this, all docile because he’s weak. We do not have any food to give him, we do not know what he eats. I know it eats meat, but look how thirsty he is.”
It takes a few helmets of water to quench the wolf’s thirst, but once the animal is rehydrated it moves to its feet and makes a run for the woods. Rodrigues and Sebastiao celebrate their successful rescue mission with a high five, before presumably returning to their truck.
Following his amazing brush with the maned wolf, Rodrigues decided to share footage of the encounter on Facebook. And it didn’t take long for the heartwarming video to go viral. In fact, before long it had been shared by almost 100,000 people.
Soon the footage had spread far beyond Rodrigues’ native Brazil to inspire people from across the globe. On reddit, a viewer wrote, “This one makes me want to cry. Such kindness. I hope both guy and wolf went on to live full and happy lives.”
In a separate thread on reddit, another person praised Rodrigues’ “help not harm” approach to nature. “Such a simple, yet beautiful way too look at life,” they wrote. “It’s as easy as that, this is what we all should live by.”
As of June 2018 Rodrigues’ original video on Facebook has attracted 5.4 million views and 131,000 shares. Furthermore, in the comment section, the trucker has been hailed as a hero to animals. “Congratulations. What a beautiful attitude,” wrote one admirer. “God bless you always.”