Easter is a week from today and many parents think it's good idea to buy their children a baby bunny, chick, or duckling as a holiday gift. Here's the hard truth a lot of people don't want to hear, these living beings are not gifts.
Sure, I've written about this before, in these posts you'll also find some suggestions for appropriate gift options.
A personal story:
In the summer of 2003, a woman I knew told me about someone she worked with who had purchased a rabbit for her kids for Easter and she was tired of taking care of "it" so her plan was to release the rabbit into the woods behind her home. I had been researching caring for rabbits as I was considering adopting one, I am so glad this woman knew I was already in the process of learning about rabbit care because she immediately reached out to me to see if I was able to take in this rabbit before she met an early demise. I said yes without hesitation and a few days later "Tabby" was being dropped off at my house. This family had clearly not researched how to care for a rabbit. She was in a large dog crate, she could see out only through the cage door in the front of the crate, there was a small amount of hay on the floor, the bowls of food and water were not secured so had spilled. The woman who dropped her off said she didn't think "Tabby" had ever eaten fresh vegetables either.
The first thing I did was let Abbie (her new name - with a similar sound just in case she already knew the name Tabby) out of that crate and into the rabbit-proofed room where her new cage sat. It was a large cage with a corner litter box and ramps to access multiple levels. There was also a piece of ceramic tile for Abbie to sit on if she felt hot, rabbits can overheat pretty easily so it's important they have opportunities to cool down. I had couple and would swap them out and keep those not in use in the fridge, sometimes, if it was really hot, I would place a frozen water bottle in the cage or hang a damp towel over the back of the cage and allow a fan to blow on the low setting. I also lived with a dog at that time who was a little too interested in Abbie so I always kept them separate. Abbie didn't live her whole life in the cage though, she had access to the room to run and play. She loved taking a sheet of paper in her mouth and hopping around the room with it and really enjoyed when I would stand empty water bottles on the floor and she could hop around knocking them down. One thing Abbie didn't like was being picked up, so I did so only when necessary, like when needing to go to the vet. Rabbits are also quite delicate and picking them up incorrectly can result in a broken back.
I loved sharing my veggies with her, she was really into kale and collards! Abbie had such a personality, I always knew when she was mad at me (maybe I was gone too long that day or she was expecting more hay/veggies and I didn't have any in hand) because she would turn her back to me. Rabbits also do a little run and jump with a kick called a Binky when they're really happy. They also shake when nervous.
My point in sharing a bit of Abbie's story is to highlight how these precious beings have an interest in life and have their own experiences. They are not a novelty to be gifted then tired of and left to their own devices or handed off to someone else to care for them. Rabbits can live upwards of 10-12 years, deciding to care for a rabbit is a significant investment in emotion, time, money, as is any animal you welcome into your home.
If you are celebrating Easter next weekend and planning to give gifts, I hope you gift some tasty vegan chocolates or a trip to a farmed animal sanctuary where your gift recipient(s) can see animals in their element, being loved and cared for properly.
If you celebrate, how will you do so this year? My in-laws celebrate so I'm thinking I'll bring a vegan carrot cake, I'll be sure to share the recipe if I do! If you're celebrating Passover this week, visit the Vegan Rabbi on instagram for suggestions on how to have a vegan Passover.
Coming up this week at Did You Bring the Hummus
Check out my interview with Meg Kelly of Learn Veganic. If you're interested in gardening, you don't want to miss this episode! I'll be highlighting this episode in tomorrow's blog.
The next Healing Circle is this Tuesday!! Gift yourself an hour of "me" time. $22. Get more info and sign up here