Thursday, March 31, 2011

Comedian Gets Serious about Animal Testing

Comedian Ricky Gervais along with “X Factor” winner Leona Lewis,and former Spice Girl Melanie C have joined Humane Society International’s Cruelty-Free 2013 campaign to end the sale of animal-tested cosmetics in the European Union. (They all sported temporary tattoo's for a photo shoot depicting a rabbit stating "End Animal Testing") Fortunately, animal testing for cosmetics is banned in the EU, but products and ingredients tested on animals in countries such as the United States, China and Brazil continue to be sold in EU shops. Thousands of animals—such as rabbits, guinea pigs and mice are subjected to cruel and inhumane product testing.

Ricky Gervais gets serious about this issue when he says: "It’s shocking to think that behind the glamorous advertising and glossy packaging, there can lurk the ugly truth of chemicals forced down an animal’s throat. It would be nice if companies would stop animal testing just because it’s the right thing to do. But in reality, for as long as they can sell their products, they’re unlikely to change. That’s why I’ve signed HSI’s Cruelty-Free 2013 petition calling for the sale of animal-tested cosmetics to be banned in the EU without delay.” Photo: HSI

Happy Birthday Amy Sedaris (Yesterday)

It was Amy Sedaris' birthday yesterday and Garrison Keillor mentioned the occasion on his "Writer's Almanac" on American Public Radio. I enjoyed the last part about Amy's rabbit. "Amy is also an avid house-rabbit keeper. Her first rabbit, named Tattletail, was vice president of Tattletail Industries, Amy's part-time cupcake, cheeseball, and catering business, which she runs out of her Greenwich Village apartment. Tattletail passed away and was succeeded by Dusty, who has luxurious fur and sleeps in a "bunny condo" built by designer Todd Oldham, and Amy renamed the company Dusty Food Cupcakes."

Bob - Cover Bunny for Animal Welfare Institute

Check out Bob the one year old bunny who made the cover of the AWI Quarterly. Bob is a roommate to Keiki, a Java macaque at OPR Coastal Primate Sanctuary in Washington State. OPR is a sanctuary for former monkeys used in research laboratories, as well as unwanted or abused monkeys from private owners. OPR generally pairs and houses monkeys with their own kind. However, some act aggressively toward other monkeys, but will accept and nurture rabbit companions. Keiki's former owner pled no contest to animal abuse and is thriving at OPR. He and Bob have become inseparable friends. Photo credit: Polly Schultz

Bad Week for Bunnies

I was behind on the rabbit news since I was down with a cold. When I felt better I found out it was a bad week for bunnies. It started with children at a school in Northern Germany who were learning about Stone Age hunting methods in class. They ended up in tears and one fainted when their teacher killed two rabbits in front of them with a hammer. The bunnies were from the school's petting zoo. The story only gets worse and I think I will skip the rest. It was reported the parents were outraged.
Then there was the hoarding case in Marlboro, New York investigated last week ending in an arrest. A woman had 64 rabbits "living in deplorable conditions with no sustenance, said SPCA Executive Director Brian Shapiro." The emaciated rabbits were brought to the local SPCA where they are receiving care and medical attention in Ulster County.
But there was a happy ending for a group of abandoned rabbits in the suburbs of Philadephia (Cinnaminson) when a kind woman rescued several abandoned bunnies last weekend after they were left in a storm drain near a cemetery. Hawks were circling so the rescue came in time. The Animal Welfare Association is a no-kill shelter and has taken over care of the rabbits to ready them for adoption. See video of bunnies below:


Rabbit Meadows in Washington State Building New Shelter

It all started with one rabbit. It always does and that one rabbit for Sandi Ackerman at Rabbit Meadows in Redmond, WA was Duster. Now, Sandi is looking forward to moving from an adoption center in a trailer to a newly built shelter of 2,500 sq. ft. later this year. The building will feature a reception area, spacious adoption area, an education room, boarding room and a quarantine area for animals that are waiting to be spayed or neutered.
Sandi is 67 years old and not about to retire - she says "the shelter is my bucket list." I like her attitude - an inspiration to us all! The new shelter has been long awaited since the first feral shelter opened in 1996. I remembered hearing about these rabbits from friends. There were 650 rabbits living in a Redmond, WA business park (not far from Microsoft's campus) that was about to be bulldozed. But with Sandi's and several others hardwork wrangling rabbits, the rabbits were resettled at Rabbit Meadows. Congratulations to Sandi and all the dedicated volunteers who helped make their new shelter a reality! (Pictured Sandi and one of the Rabbit Meadow's resident rabbits.)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Giant Extinct Rabbit Discovered

Paleontologists have discovered fossil remains of a rabbit six times the size of today’s modern domesticated rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus aka European rabbit). The rabbit skeleton was found on Minorca, an island off the coast of Spain. The big bunny is thought to have flourished there 3 to 5 million years ago. It has been given the scientific name, Nuralagus rex, “the Minorcan king of the rabbits." The rabbit weighed about the same as some of the present day giant domesticated breeds (think Flemish Giant) at 26 lbs.
The King of rabbits would have been easy prey since the findings reveal it had lost its ability to hop, and also had poor hearing and vision. Its ears were also small for its size. One possible explanation the rabbit lost the spring in its step and keen senses - unlike our modern rabbits it had no predators. “N. rex was a very robust and peculiar rabbit,” project leader Josep Quintana told the news media. “Surely he was a very calm and peaceful animal that moved with slow, but powerful, movements.” Quintana has also suggested the big bunny as a mascot for Minorca to bring more visitors and students to the island. (The photo is a reconstruction of Nuralagus rex in a landscape with an example of a European rabbit in the foreground for comparison.)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

How Does Your Rabbit Keep You Healthy?

An article in the New York Times today "Easing the Way in Therapy With the Aid of an Animal" features a photo of an older woman enjoying the company of a bunny. There is no doubt animals can improve and enhance human health. Rabbits have been "fuzzy therapists" for some time now in all types of healthcare settings, and I have reported on many therapy rabbits in this blog over the years. In fact, in my January 6, 2010 blog entry I mentioned a study confirming rabbits are helpful to women and children (and probably men, too, but they weren't part of the study).
On the New York Times website next to the article there is a request calling for people to "Send Us Your Videos: How Does Your Pet Keep You Healthy?" It would be fantastic if rabbit fans sent in their videos, too. So get out the video camera and submit!
Go go to this link to see the full article and submit video. Photo Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin/The Daily News

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Big Cat Rescue has Alternatives

Big Cat Rescue (BCR) needs to find another way to condition bobcats for release into the wild rather than using live domesticated rabbits and other small animals. They had posted a video of two domesticated rabbits as live prey for the cats on youtube.com. Since last week, several rabbit advocates have started a petition and a cause page with over 800 members so far. Unfortunately, a photo had been posted on the BCR website showing three women holding a dead, bloodstained Dutch breed rabbit and two other white domesticated rabbits. The women were smiling. Please be aware this photo is very disturbing especially if you love rabbits. Links to the photo now posted on other websites can be found here. An entry has been posted on FaceBook apparently from the BCR stating, “. . . we sometimes forget how certain images can appear to members of the public. In retrospect we should not have taken this photograph, we apologize.” Despite the valid outrage over the photo, the point is finding a viable alternative to live feedings. Some in the rabbit rescue community have been researching “drag training” (no live prey) or other methods used successfully by wildlife rehabilitators elsewhere.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Grocery Bags for Bunnies

Every week my sister and I buy a bagful (or two) of bunny veggies for the herd at home. We always take our reusable bags since they are easier to handle and hold together much better than the flimsy plastic or paper bags. I just discovered even better bags at the San Diego HRS promoting "healthy eating" for bunnies! They might even become conversation starters about rabbits in the produce section with curious shoppers who see the the bag. The grocery clerks already get an earful about rabbits as they ring up all the cilantro. See the bag photo above. Order this great bag shopping by visiting here.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

On the Wild Side: Mad as a March Hare

Once again it is March and the female hares are busy boxing passionate male hares. Hares are cousins to rabbits and they are much longer-limbed and can reach speeds of up to 45 mph when chased by a predator. The Brown Hare ranges throughout western and central Europe and the UK. The phrase, “Mad March Hare” derives from the frenzied behavior of females fending off males, and males also fighting amongst themselves. The photo above depicts a single Brown Hare with Stonehenge in the background. Several sources suggest the fields around the prehistoric monument as a good places to observe hares.
To hear an interesting podcast from the BBC on Hares (23 minutes) go to this link. BBC Host Lionel Kelleway has close encounters with boxing hares during a walk with Gill Turner who knows many of the hares individually on a farm in Hertfordshire.
By the way, the bunny, Thumper, in the Disney movie Bambi was named after the the behavior of female hares. Unlike rabbits hares do not burrow into the ground and instead live exposed in fields. Their babies (leverets) spread out to hide and when it is time to nurse the mother thumps her back foot rapidly on the ground to call them. Rabbits on the other hand normally thump both back feet at one time to warn of danger and typically stop after one or two thumps. They will stand alert until they feel the danger has passed. (Photo credit: www.christopherholt.com)

Thinking About Friends in Japan . . .

Rabbits are symbols of good luck in Japan and have found a place in their culture from the Rabbit in the Moon to the rabbit cafes reported on recently in the news. There are many rabbit fans from Japan who have taken the time to email me over the years with interesting news about their rabbits. I hope for the safety of their families (including their rabbits!) after the horrific earthquake and tsunami devastation this past weekend. I have visited many of the Japanese rabbit blogs today and have found messages saying they are doing okay.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Rabbit in the Sky

An amateur astronomer emailed me this evening to tell me I might be able to still see the rabbit in the sky. Well, it’s rainy and cloudy where I live so I found the constellation Lepus, the Rabbit on the internet. It is supposed to be visible in the northern hemisphere in winter and located just below Orion and west of Canis Major and Minor. Even the ancient Greeks knew about it in their time, but Greece has clearer skies than the Pacific Northwest. For rabbit loving astronomers, Right Ascension: 5.58 hours, Declination: -19.32 degrees, Area in Square Degrees: 290 Crossed the Meridian: 9 PM, January 25 – okay, this is all Greek to me.

Break Out the Champagne!

Yesterday I received an email from Susan in Texas who said she was given a baby bunny by woman who said she couldn’t take care of it. The woman tried to sell her the bunny since it was “rare.” Then she left without a word leaving the little bunny at Susan’s feet in a box in a grocery store parking lot. The bunny was almost black in color and has been gradually changing to a light silver color for a few weeks. I told her the rabbit is most likely a Champagne D’ Argent breed from what she described. They are uncommon in the United States. This breed of rabbit is from France going back at least 400 years. Its fur is a blend of white and black hairs with a blue undercoat and it can take about six months to completely grow out or “finish silvering.” I met one of these rabbits several years ago and it was large at about 11 lbs. with a gentle disposition. They make wonderful house rabbits as long as they have enough living space to accommodate their size. Susan said she didn’t really care about the breed type and she emailed me “out of curiosity.” As she wrote, “I love my new rabbit. She could turn purple and I would still love her.” Pictured above “Dixie,” a Champagne D’ Argent rabbit listed as available for adoption in Indianapolis, IN on Petfinder.org from IndyCLAW Rescue of Indianapolis Email: adopt@indyclaw.org

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Rabbits are Live Lunch at Big Cat Rescue, Tampa, FL

A recent YouTube video posted in early February was brought to my attention depicting two young bobcats who were orphaned and taken to a sanctuary. Then the next segment of the video shows the cats killing at least two domesticated rabbits in an enclosure at the Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, Florida. Subsequently, I read an article also posted online in February aptly called “There's No Kibble Served at the Big Cat Rescue” about their practice of feeding live rabbits to bobcats in preparation for release into the wild. I am outraged at this video.First of all, the tame rabbits used as “prey” for these cats would not prepare the cats for reintroduction into the wild. An agouti colored rabbit actually goes up to the young cat and touches his nose. (Pictured above from video) Only a very trusting, docile rabbit would interact this way. The cats in the video already have their predation and stalking instincts honed as demonstrated by how quickly they dispatched both rabbits.
Secondly, the domesticated rabbits shown do not stand a chance. A wild rabbit would know his territory, and have a fighting chance to escape. The domesticated rabbits were quite literally “fed” to the bobcats. The Big Cat Rescue must stop their cruel practice of live feeding domesticated rabbits and find another way to condition their cats for release. Further, not only is the video posted on Youtube.com with warnings about graphic content by Big Cat Rescue, but several others are, too.
Finally, this is a gross affront to anyone who has compassion for animals and especially domesticated rabbits, but particularly those of us who know them as pets. The third most popular pet in the United States is an easy lunch at the Big Cat Rescue in Tampa. I am truly appalled. Founder and CEO of Big Cat Rescue is: Carole Baskin, 12802 Easy Street, Tampa, Florida 33625, info@bigcatrescue.org; The Humane Society of Tampa Bay, 3607 N Armenia Ave., Tampa, FL 33607 813-876-7138 Animal abuse or complaint line - Hillsborough County Animal Services (813) 744-5660 (Photo: Big Cat Rescue image from video)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Coquette Rabbette

Walking through Portland, Oregon’s Pearl District a few weeks ago on a visit, my sister and I were stopped in our tracks by a very large bronze sculpture of a rabbit in a gallery window. The name of the sculpture is “Coquette Rabbette.” She is located at the Gallery 903 (gallery903@gallery903.com). Since I didn’t have a camera with me the owners of the gallery offered me a photo of the big bunny in a garden shown below.

Wyoming Gets Tougher on Animal Cruelty

Out west in Wyoming animal cruelty laws just got tougher. Putting a household pet in chronic or repeated serious physical harm is now a crime there. According to Wyoming News the governor recently signed a bill that adds "household pet animal cruelty" to state law. The bill defines a household pet as a privately owned dog, cat, rabbit, guinea pig, hamster, mouse, gerbil, ferret, bird, fish, reptile, amphibian, invertebrate or any other species of domesticated animal kept as a pet. The bill also will help county law enforcement agencies pay for the costs of animal cruelty cases. Pictured above is “Coyote” an adoptable English Spot rabbit from Hawk Springs, WY with Pet Pals. He was going to be coyote food. He was given away for free and then given away again in exchange for a bale of hay. Wow, this bunny is lucky to be alive.

Bad Hare Day for Bunnies in Britain

The British Veterinary Association (BVA)was very disappointed to learn that their Government has no plans to publish a code of practice on the welfare of rabbits. Their governing agency (Defra) considers the Animal Welfare Act 2006 to provide for the welfare needs of animals as sufficient to ensure the necessary protection for the welfare of pet rabbits. However, the President of the BVA stated, “rabbits are such popular pets, but vets are seeing more and more husbandry-related problems with these animals. Dental disease and obesity are two of the most common problems we encounter and both are directly linked to inappropriate diets. Another issue of concern is inadequate space for exercise - but perhaps the most neglected of all the welfare needs is a lack of companionship for these very social animals.”
The PDSA just published a report (Animal Wellbeing) and found that "700,000 rabbits could be suffering, mentally and physically, because they are not receiving all the essential health and welfare requirements for their happiness and well being." (The PDSA is a veterinary charity in the UK. I read the report and you can find the section on rabbits here.) The Welsh already have a code of practice called “How to Look After Your Rabbit.” Pictured is "Rocko," a dwarf albino lop featured on the pages of Rabbit Rehome in the UK.

Animated Rabbits Everywhere

March 1st a digitally enhanced Bambi was brought back in a new release in Blu-ray and DVD Edition. Disney certainly needs no help in promoting this beloved animated film created in 1942. However, there are some fun Thumper related items on the website for kids including a “How to Draw Thumper” lesson. I never realized Thumper sometimes had “helicopter” ears or he boasted anatomically incorrect pads on his paws and back feet. Nonetheless, the Disney animators created a wonderful rabbit, deer, skunk and other woodland creatures. The story goes they studied films of animals and also created a small zoo to study them on the Disneyland grounds as well as visiting zoos. With Easter coming up there is also a Disney Bunnies Coloring Pages online for kids with several pages of Thumper to print and color.

"Hop," the movie to be released to coincide with Easter on April 1st also has some activities for kids. See the Make Your Own Hopper. As someone who has seen the consequences of the rabbit buying frenzy at Easter every year, I hope these movies and all their licensed toys will be purchased instead of live rabbits.

Look for another animated film from DreamWorks this year. They just announced they will bring Rumblewick to the big screen. Director Tim Johnson (Over The Hedge, Antz) and writer Jim Herzfeld (Meet the Fockers, Meet the Parents) are collaborating on the feature project, which is inspired by the children's book, "My Unwilling Witch (The Rumblewick Letters)" by Hiawyn Oram and Sarah Warburton. No word yet when this film will be released.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Flemish Giants on Stage at Early Show

The Early Show on CBS this morning showcased exotic pets including a couple of Flemish Giant rabbits. Their website included more information on all the animals shown. Unfortunately, they had some outdated information on domesticated rabbits regarding their lifespan and diet. They got some things right on housing, etc. But I did make a comment on their website especially on their statement that Flemish Giants “will generally tolerate the poking and prodding from children.” In my opinion, it wasn’t right to promote the idea that those big beautiful bunnies should or will tolerate it especially with the Easter rabbit buying frenzy coming up. See the video at link above.