#GusGus back home: How social media is changing the face of rescue missions

A baby goat stolen from the Arizona State Fair was returned after he was recognized from a photo seen on social media.

AP photo/Courtesy of Emilie Owen
GusGus, a baby goat, is seen at the Arizona State Fair in Phoenix in this October 2015 photo provided by Emilie Owen. Fair officials say GusGus was taken from the petting zoo at the fair Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2015, leaving his mother without her kid.

GusGus, a baby pygmy goat still nursing off his mother, was stolen from the Arizona State Fair on Wednesday. He was missing for 20 hours, amidst reported cries from his mother, when he was recognized by a pet store owner and returned to his mother Thursday. One thing that reunited him with his mother: he’d become an Internet sensation.

GusGus was greeted by dozens of State Fair employees and an ever larger horde of cameramen after a social media campaign to save #GusGus went viral online.

It’s not the first time social media has been used for a rescue mission.

A raging monsoon in the Philippine capital of Manila killed at least 19 people and left much of the city of nearly 15 million stranded in chest high water in 2012. Many turned to social media networking sites for updates – soon Twitter and Facebook became the vital links connecting available resources to people stranded on rooftops.

And earlier this week, rescue workers have been searching for survivors in a factory collapse in Lahore, Pakistan, that has already claimed 21 lives. Many have been found because they were able to tell rescuers their locations via mobile phones. Over 400 rescuers were able to pull 108 survivors from the rubble, but it’s unclear how many remain trapped.

When Hurricane Sandy hit the US East Coast in October 2012, the storm was documented, charted, and made available to the public via social media almost instantaneously.

And rescue and recovery work following the typhoon in Taiwan in 2009? It was largely organized via social media

As for GusGus, according to The Arizona Republic, investigators don't know who took him, but they suspect coverage of the kidnapping motivated the thief to let him go.

"We are very grateful for the rapid response of the media and Arizonans in getting the word out today about baby GusGus," Fair Livestock Director Karen Searle told the paper. "It's wonderful to be a part of a community that comes together to rescue a helpless animal and return it to his mama."

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