Hey everybody. Lynn from HiddenLA here. Sorry I didn't post this update earlier, but as many of you know it's been a crazy week and I needed to take a few days off to decompress.
First off, I want to thank everyone SO sincerely... you all are amazing and really stepped up to the plate here to help Rufus find a home after it was announced that he didn't have one. We accomplished an amazing amount in a little over one week! Not only did we find him an amazing potential home, we had people working on giving him a custom tank and we had marine professionals on hand to move him. Everything was really falling into place! And the media was on the ball and eating up the story... which is a double edged sword.
We did a great job of getting the word out... but... possibly too good of a job.
As many of you already know, by the time we went to meet with the people leasing the Bahooka property to negotiate for Rufus, a Mandarin interpreter in tow (he doesn't speak english) and a firm gameplan in hand, he had seen the press attention and began to see dollar signs. He told us that he now realized there was "value" on Rufus and refused to let him go. He believes now that Rufus will bring him press attention and customers, without realizing that the press was there only due to our efforts and because of the immediacy of the story about him needing a home.
On a good note, Jorge (Rufus' caretaker who loves him) will still be on hand and he has kept Rufus alive for 13 years. We are just hoping nothing happens to Jorge, and that Jorge's relationship with the business owner stays on good terms.
Anyhow, regarding the fundraiser: we have thought long and hard about what to do with this money. When the business owner asked for us to give him this raised money to build a fancy new tank for Rufus, we refused because we know that is NOT what you donated your money for. You were donating to move Rufus, not remodel a Chinese restaurant. We fully recognize that you would consider that a misappropriation of these funds.
Try to understand as we do... that a lot of the difficulties we have experienced here are cultural differences. He very sincerely *doesn't* understand why the greedy manner in which he changed his mind would turn people against him, because he feels people should be happy Rufus doesn't need to be moved and everyone should rush to see him as they construct their new business. This gentleman fully believes in his heart that everyone should be happy and supportive because "we have decided to care about the fish now" without understanding that many people don't view caring as something that can be turned on and off like a switch. Since last week they didn't care what happened to Rufus and suddenly this week they recognize he has "value"... it isn't impossible to imagine him changing his mind again... and *that's* what worries us. Rufus is fine right now, but it doesn't seem unlikely that the shine and expense of caring for giant Rufus without a payday could wear thin eventually. Big ol' Rufus is not exactly a low maintenance/cost guy to keep around.
It seemed very easy for this gentleman to change his mind on Rufus' fate, and so we are just worried that it might happen again just as fast. When the dust settles on this story and the press and public attention are nowhere to be found, the business owners may have to stop and realize there IS no pot of gold in Rufus' tank and they may be very disappointed when the press isn't there to cover the opening of (yet another) Chinese restaurant in the SGV. Rufus is a pacu and they are invasive, inexpensive fish (he's probably worth $80)... his main value isn't monetary, it's sentimental for people who went to Bahooka and people who are into the Tiki community.
So, to make a long story long... we have decided the best plan of action is to hold onto this Rufus fund for six months as is because we have a feeling that the story of Rufus might not be over yet. We are looking for a non-profit to help us earmark it, and we promise to keep you in the loop.
Everyone appreciates your patience and support more than you could possibly know. :)