“Four-Legged Hero” Wilson the Search Dog Remains Missing · The Wildest

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“Four-Legged Hero” Wilson the Search Dog Remains Missing

A Belgian Shepherd who rescued four kids lost in the Amazon rainforest has disappeared into the jungle.

by Savannah Admire
June 13, 2023
Hero dog Wilson, a Belgian Shepherd, who saved four children stranded in Amazon jungle is now lost himself.
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After the miraculous rescue of four children in the Amazon rainforest last week, the goal of the Colombian special forces search team has shifted to looking for a missing rescue dog who aided in the search. 

A six-year-old Belgian Shepherd Colombian special forces search dog named Wilson played an integral role in locating the children. Critically, he helped to find baby bottles that the four siblings had left behind after their plane crashed in the jungle — one of the first clues that the children had survived. 

The dog even found the children during the search, spending several days with them. “[Wilson] became their faithful friend and accompanied them on several occasions,” the children’s grandfather said. Even after he went missing, Wilson’s pawprints eventually led the searchers right to the children. 

Four Children Survive Plane Crash in Amazon Rainforest

Lesly, 13, and her three younger siblings, Soleiny (nine), Tien Noriel (four), and Cristin (one), spent 40 days trapped in the Colombian jungle after their plane crashed on May 1. The adults on the plane, including the children’s mother, the pilot, and an indigenous leader, all died in the accident, leaving the four children to fend for themselves in the famously dense rainforest. 

Over 100 Colombian special forces troops and more than 70 indigenous scouts began diligently searching the forest, along with the help of trained rescue dogs, including Wilson. Codenamed Esperanza, the Spanish word for “hope,” the search effort continued for 40 days, until the children were discovered and rescued on June 9. 

Wilson the Rescue Dog Goes Missing

Unfortunately, while Wilson helped lead the searchers to the lost children, the dog himself wasn’t there to celebrate. Wilson went missing several days before the children’s rescue and  was last seen by a member of the search team on June 8. Members of the search team believe the dog became disoriented in the difficult terrain and harsh humidity of the jungle, which is a challenging area for anyone to navigate, making the children’s survival all the more miraculous. 

The children are recovering from signs of dehydration and multiple insect bites in a military hospital in the nation’s capital city of Bogotá. From their hospital beds, they’ve drawn pictures of their jungle experience, including one that features Wilson himself. 

From their hospital bed, the lost children in the Amazon have drawn images of their journey through the jungle, including one in which Wilson was featured.
Photo Courtesy of Columbian Army

The Search for Wilson Continues

While the children are safe and sound, the search effort to find Wilson continues. In a tweet, the Colombian army said, “The search has not ended…No one is left behind. The soldiers continue the operation to find Wilson.”  

The search for Wilson has become an international story, prompting the hashtag #vamosporwilson on Twitter (which roughly translates to “Let’s go, Wilson”) with tens of thousands of people showing their support and love for the hero dog. President Gustavo Petro of Colombia also publicly praised Wilson for his assistance in the children’s rescue.

As of publication, the search for Wilson continues in the Amazon Rainforest. The Colombian army insists that Operation Hope will not be complete until Wilson is found and the story has a happy ending for everyone involved. 

Savannah Admire

Savannah Admire is a writer, editor, and pet parent to two dogs and a cat. When she’s not writing, you can find her reading, playing Animal Crossing, or being an obnoxious nerd about her favorite movies and TV shows. She lives in Maryland, where she constantly debates whether or not to get a third dog.

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