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A lucky squirrel survives the La Brea Tar Pits

September 15, 2011 |  6:00 am

La Brea Tar Pits

The California Wildlife Center in Malibu has cleaned up its share of birds rescued from oil spills. But last month, a goo-covered squirrel arrived, freshly plucked from the La Brea Tar Pits, the famous tomb of   prehistoric animals. 

The young female fox squirrel was rescued by staffers at the nearby Los Angeles County Museum of Art who saw her struggling in the pool of tar. She went under, managed to pop back to the surface and then was lifted out with a stick.

Once at the wildlife center, hospital manager Jo Joseph and animal care coordinator Christina Van Oosten attacked the black goop that coated the unrecognizable animal from head to claw tip. Their 90 minutes of scrubbing, first with mineral oil and then with a mixture of Dawn dish detergent and water, was recorded on video.

The center kept the squirrel for two weeks to make sure she didn't grow ill from her dunking and then released her on the tar pit grounds, presumably the wiser. 

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--Bettina Boxall

Photo: Replica of a prehistoric animal stuck in the tar pits. Credit: Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times