TED Talk: What to do if you see a furry baby at your local pet shop article A couple years ago, Teddy the Cave Scavenger Hunt began as a simple, unassuming quest to locate the elusive, mysterious giant panda cubs that have been wandering the streets of the American Indian community of Wabasha.
“It was just a cute little thing to do, like ‘What’s the big deal?'” says Wabashaw resident and Wabasaw-based pet store owner, Laura Hines.
But after years of collecting stray animals and seeing no evidence of any panda-related activity, Laura began to think something was amiss.
“I thought maybe they had gone off the reservation, and I’d never seen anything like it,” she recalls.
But when she took her first steps into the wild, she found a very different creature: a cub that was actually a baby.
“A little girl, like four months old,” Laura says.
“I thought ‘That’s a pretty cute little girl.'”
And it wasn’t just a little girl.
It was a little boy.
“The little boy’s mother came over and hugged me,” Laura recalls.
“She was crying and crying.
And then I said ‘Mommy, are you okay?
Are you OK?’
She looked at me and she said ‘I’m okay, I’m okay.’
And then she hugged me, and then she said goodbye.
And I just said ‘Thank you, mom.'”
Laura is a native Wabase Sioux woman, but she’s been a member of the tribe since 2003.
She was born and raised on Wabaka reservation in the state of Oklahoma.
She had no idea it would become an iconic symbol for her community, until she found out a local animal rescue organization was tracking down the cubs’ mother.
After finding the cub, Laura knew she had to get Teddy the Cavers back to his tribe.
“When we found him, he was just like a little baby, so we were like, ‘OK, I think we can get him home.
Let’s get him back,'” she recalls of Teddy’s first steps in the wild.
“We took him to our local wildlife rehabilitation center and we just kept on doing it.”
Laura says Teddy’s mother, Mina, was so overwhelmed with the help of WABasha’s wildlife rehabilitation staff, that she gave up on finding the panda panda and gave Teddy a chance to find his mother, who had been lost for years.
“She was so happy, and she kept hugging me and being like, “I’m so happy!
Thank you for saving me!””
And she was like, oh my God, you know Teddy is going to be okay, and he’s going to get out of here. “
And she was so proud, because she had so many other animals she cared for that didn’t get to be that big a part of her life.
It just made her so happy.””
It just touched her so much.
It just made her so happy.”
Laura has since become a leader in the Wabassas tribe, helping with the efforts to find the cub’s mother.
“Teddy is an amazing animal, he’s a little guy, and when we found his mother she was crying,” she says.
“You could feel her happiness just radiating off him.”
Laura hopes the experience will teach Teddy to appreciate the wildness of the wild and be more accepting of the people he encounters.
“He is a little kid that loves the wild,” she adds.
“You can’t ever take anything for granted.”
Laura and Teddy are the latest members of the Wabanas tribe to take a trip into the wilderness to find a lost baby.
In the past, the Wabsaw Tribe has participated in several similar projects, including one where volunteers and members of Teddy and Mina’s community went into the Big Horn River and searched for a missing baby.
The Wabasses are a proud Native American tribe, but they have recently been trying to move away from their traditional ways of living.
For Laura and her family, this time is no exception.
“We feel like we’ve done our part in bringing Teddy home, and we’re happy to be able to move on with our lives,” she tells The Huffington Post.
“But we want to make sure Teddy gets the love and the attention he deserves.”
And Laura wants to do more than just help find Teddy’s mom.
She wants to help Teddy’s community.
“The more Teddy is around, the better we’ll be able help out the tribe,” she explains.
“He’s the biggest thing to come out of our community in years.
We can’t just turn around and say ‘Oh, we have to do that.’
We need to work together to make it a reality