Chinchilla rescue, 1957

Springfield firefighters in 1957 saved 72 comatose chinchillas via what sounds like a form of mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

The chinchillas were being raised in cages next to a garage at 722 S. 25th St., home of a business called the Capitol Chinchilla Ranch. Firefighters quickly extinguished a fire in the garage on Dec. 14, 1957, but then found all 72 animals unconscious as the result of smoke inhalation.

“Removing them from their cages, the fire fighters used all available means, including breathing into the little animals’ mouths, to revive them,” the Illinois State Journal reported the next day.

“To their surprise, they revived all 72 of the little furry animals.”

Owner Samuel Frieman estimated the chinchillas’ value at $50 each, the newspaper reported.

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