In late July, when the Louisiana Watermelon Festival in Farmerville, Louisiana, was in full swing, a produce truck carrying over 100 watermelons and cantaloupes near the festival site was involved in an accident that left fruit scattered on the road.
It appeared that the melons crushed in the accident — which caused no injuries — would go waste until licensed wildlife rehab specialist Leslie Greene came upon the scene.
Once discovering everyone was okay, “I asked the owner of Yak’s Produce, ‘Well, hey, if y’all are not going to use all this watermelon that’s already open, can I have it for the wildlife rehab?'” Greene recalls.
“And the owner is like, ‘If it can go to another cause instead of being discarded, that would be wonderful,'” Greene tells PEOPLE.
Yak’s delivered the fruits to Greene’s 4-acre property, the home of River Bandit Rescue — which currently houses 42 animals, including beavers, raccoons, skunks, opossums, goats, and more. Greene passed the melons onto her furry residents.
@ellegreene2018 When blessings come from unfortunate events! #wildlife #yaksproduce #blessings ♬ Send Me on My Way – Guy Meets Girl
The beavers were the first to taste the juicy fruit. “I chucked it over the enclosure, and they started coming out,” Greene says, “and they love watermelon.”
The rescue, which is “out in the country,” says the owner, bumps up along a wildlife refuge, where Greene releases the rescue’s fully-healed, non-predatory animals.
She and her husband, a pilot for Southwest, also have over 100 acres of family-owned land in Homer, where the couple releases rehabbed predatory animals from their rescue.
“I love the animals. I love helping them,” says Greene, a marketer for a nursing home, a job that pays for her rescue and rehabilitation work. “I’ve always been a nurturer. If something or someone needs me, it makes me feel good.”
After Greene shared her melon truck encounter on social media, she says “a ton” of her TikTok followers went to Yak’s Facebook page to praise the company for donating the crushed watermelons instead of trashing them. In turn, Yak’s reached out to Greene and offered her and her animals any produce they could no longer sell or use.
“So it turned out to be a big win for us and the wildlife,” Greene says. “I appreciate Yak’s and appreciate all the animal lovers who did reach out to Yak’s and tell them thank you.”