7 min read

Airport Employees Find The Strangest Surprise Inside The Bathroom

They had no idea what he was.

Last week, cleaning staff went into a bathroom at the Agra Airport in India where they met someone unexpected: a frightened, sopping wet animal.

The staff was shocked to see the animal inside the bathroom — and had no idea what he was.

“They weren’t able to identify the species, which led to some apprehension on their part,” Kartick Satyanarayan, CEO of Wildlife SOS, which helps wild animals in India, told The Dodo.

Wet, scared and cowering civet cat
The scared and wet civet cat shortly after being rescued | Wildlife SOS

Thankfully, the workers did the right thing. Instead of trying to get rid of the animal themselves, they contacted Wildlife SOS, and two rescuers hurried to the airport to help.

The animal turned out to be a wild Asian civet cat. He’d probably wandered into the airport from the neighboring forest in search of food.

The civet cat was clearly distressed, and he huddled in the corner as the rescue team tried to catch him. He was also soaking wet, presumably because he was trying to drink out of one of the toilet bowls.

The rescue team did their best to keep the civet cat calm, and they spent 30 long minutes attempting to safely capture him. Their persistence paid off when they finally got him.

Scared, wet civet cat in box
Wildlife SOS

“Rapid habitat encroachment and deforestation is beginning to redefine the boundaries between forest and urban areas,” Satyanarayan said. “Consequently, incidents of wild animals straying into urban areas in search of food and shelter are increasing.”

Since the civet cat appeared to be in good health, the team transported and released him into the Soor Sarovar Bird Sanctuary, which is also home to wild civet cats and other mammals, later that day.

“Unless the animal is injured or needs long-term care, we immediately re-release any wild animal that has been rescued, as we want to avoid imprinting them and losing their chance to survive naturally in the wild,” Satyanarayan explained.

Rescuer releasing wild civet cat
The civet cat running out of the cage at the release site | Wildlife SOS

In India and other countries in Asia, civet cats face many challenges, and, sadly, their populations are decreasing.

“The civet population in India is under threat due to rapid human encroachment, loss of natural habitat and meat hunting in several states,” Satyanarayan said. “They are also referred to as ‘toddy cats’ as their perineal gland secretes a waxy ‘musk’ that is often used in perfumes and medicines, and are hunted for the same.”

Civet cats are actually a protected species in India under the Wildlife Protection Act, so anyone who hunts these animals is breaking the law, but it hasn’t deterred poachers.

Civet cat running into the woods
Wildlife SOS

In other parts of Asia, especially in Indonesia, civet cats are used to make an expensive coffee called kopi luwak, which is made from coffee beans that pass through the civet cat’s intestinal tracts. To produce this coffee, civet cats go through absolute hell — they’re kept in tiny cages and force-fed large quantities of coffee beans, which makes them sick and leads to neurotic behavior like pacing, spinning, bar-biting and head-bobbing. The digested beans are then gathered to make coffee. When civet cats become too ill and malnourished to eat any more coffee beans, they’re usually released back into the wild — but unfortunately, they’re often too sick to survive.

Luckily, the civet cat found in the bathroom got a second chance at life, and the Wildlife SOS team is grateful for the airport staff’s help in getting him get back into the forest.

“The airport authorities were quite cooperative and keeping the safety of the civet in mind, reached out to our team to come and rescue it,” Satyanarayan said. “This was in fact one of the uplifting parts of the rescue as we believe that human caring and understanding is crucial to saving wild animals, and we work towards increasing public tolerance towards wild species to help them coexist. Moreover, to see the civet return to the wild, unhurt and healthy, makes the work we do so much more rewarding.”

To help Wildlife SOS rescue more civet cats, as well as elephants, sloth bears, monkeys and other wild animals, you can make a donation.