An inspirational story of a rescued Cape Clawless Otter who was raised in captivity and finally set free is giving us all the feels.
Johannesburg, South Africa (13 May 2021) – In their new book, Return to the Wild, conservationist couple Brendan and his wife Danelle Murray write about their experiences of releasing a captive-raised Cape clawless otter back into the wild.
A local vet asked them in September 2019 to rewild, release and post-release monitor a four-year-old captive-raised otter named Lazarus, who had been rescued as a cub but remained in captivity until the Murray’s intervention.
“The release of an otter is a complicated process, and the vet facility didn’t have the time and space to handle his release and therefore asked for our help.”
The plot has a few unexpected twists, and the otter’s release presents many challenges, not the least of which is that it is soon discovered that Lazzy, as he affectionately became known, is afraid of water, and they must find a way to help him overcome this. The Murray’s assuredly tackle their task, despite the doom-laden prophecies of critics, and succeed in teaching Lazzy to swim, hunt and survive on his own.
Thousands of animal lovers followed Lazzy’s journey on the organisation Owl Rescue Centre (of which Brendan and Danelle are the founders) Facebook site and eagerly awaited the release of the book. Return to the Wild was launched at Bryanston Country Club last week and is already on its second print run.
“We are absolutely stunned by the support we are seeing for this book. Lazzy’s story captured the imaginations of people across South Africa and the world. The book will release in the U.K, U.S.A and Canada later this year through our publisher, Arcanum Press Ltd.,” Danelle explains.
“The original idea of a book about Lazarus was to put a photo journal together of all the events during his release process. After some consideration, we realised that there was far too much to be said about each of those captured moments in the photographs, that mere captions would not do a story of this kind of justice. In working with Lazarus, we gained so much knowledge, perspective and insight into the Cape clawless otter (Aonyx capensis) as a species and came to believe that it was our duty of sorts to write about our experience. Through this book, we hope to encourage the protection and conservation of all otter species. Achieving this would be the highest honour we could wish for.”
Danelle explains that the essence of the book deals with change and adapting to a new environment.
“This is relevant to us all in this time; we had to learn to adapt to a new way of living due to the Covid 19 virus.”
“Lazzy’s story in many ways is a perfect analogy of overcoming challenges in our own lives – to have courage, persistence, confidence and determination in what we wish to achieve. He reminded us, through his remarkable transformation, that it is never too late to be the person that we want to be and to live the life we were meant to have.”
The book has received a few reviews already, all of which are five-star reviews. Kanika Olivier writes: “I finished the book yesterday, along with half a box of tissues. It is an incredibly heartwarming and beautifully written story that not only told the story of Lazarus but also taught me more about your organization. I grew up with a Veterinarian father and a deep love for animals. My dream to also become a veterinarian did not happen, but not because it couldn’t rather because I realized that I would spend my life either in tears or adopting every animal that crossed my path. Our home was filled with pets and everything that my father rescued, so I understand how hard it is to let them go. We had a water mongoose that was orphaned and lived with us for a while. We then returned it to the wild through a rehabilitation centre, and I so wish I could’ve been part of the process. So thank you for everything that you did for Lazarus and for writing his story. But also, thank you for all that your organization does.”
Brendan and Danelle’s work in conservation has earned them international acclaim, and they were also invited to join as members of the IUCN (International Union of Conservation of Nature) and SSC (Species Survival Commission).
Return to the Wild is an awe-inspiring story of dedication to a cause, bravery and courage and is available for purchase directly through the organization at www.owlrescuecentre.org.za, on Amazon or Kindle. It will soon hit the shelves of bookstores across the country.