My first week at the sanctuary flew by, no pun intended (I was with the parrots), and for my second week I was in the All Day Adorable area of the sanctuary that is the Bunny House. Upon arrival I was greeted by a senior caregiver who was very welcoming and helpful, both my first day, and all week. She’s been with the sanctuary for 15 years, half that time in parrots, and the last half with rabbits, and she’s fantastic. A kindred spirit in terms of her work ethic and attention to detail. There are two main buildings, plus a whole area of outdoor enclosures, and then a separate area of the sanctuary that was dedicated to the care of a huge number of rescued rabbits, originally 400, now down to about 10 (more on that in a minute). The intern group had toured the rabbit area during our orientation, and I was given a quick refresher on the two main buildings, with a demonstration on the process for the morning feeding and cleaning, and then it was off to the races to get all the inside runs done by lunch, with enough people is very doable.
Each bunny habitat in the main two buildings have an indoor area and an outdoor area, with a little tunnel in-between the two areas. The newer building has heated floors inside, and then layers of towels and fleece blankets to make it even cozier for the bunnies, and the older building has an overhead heater that makes it quite cozy for the furry little hoppers. For the older bunnies, or those with any type of health or mobility issues that may impact the comfort of their hocks and bodies, they get an extra layer of material, called a “fluffy” which is a synthetic sheepskin type of super cushy material. The little tunnel in between the inside and outside areas is even lined to keep them nice and comfortable. Some of the bunnies are somewhat shy, and will go outside while you’re cleaning their indoor area. To keep them out of the way while cleaning, we put a towel or bunched up fleece into the tunnel. The more inquisitive and cheeky bunnies will either find a way to come in anyway, or pull the material through the tunnel to their outside run. It’s quite hilarious to get down on the floor and peek into the hole in the cinder block wall and see their little twitching nose and fuzzy face looking back at you.
The rabbit area has a routine schedule for the areas that are cleaned and to what level each day of the week. The inside areas are fully cleaned every day, and the outside runs are rotated every other day. In addition to their morning pellets or greens, they get afternoon greens, which are a rotation of romaine lettuce and a handful of cilantro stems and leaves, and they all love it. There are a few that are particularly ridicously cute during feeding times, sitting up a bit on their legs like a dog might do begging for treats. As much as I try not to have favorite animals, as I really do adore them all, but having a few that stand out is inevitable, and in the bunny area, that was certainly no exception. So let’s just discuss the gold medal winner of cute, the little lionhead rabbit named Arthur. Because, he’s just next level, along with his bunny roommate, Bobbie, another little lionhead rabbit.
I’m not sure you’re fully appreciating the cute that he is, so let’s try this again:
I mean, seriously. LOOK AT HIM. He just wins. It’s a good thing that he didn’t get adopted while I had my week in rabbits because I probably would have cried. And that’s not cute. Arthur, now he’s cute.
There were many cuties, and another one that I loved for his laid-back nature was Ford, a black and white English spot Rex rabbit. He spent the day in a great outdoor run where he could zoom around and dig in the dirt ’til his heart’s content, so when he came inside at the end of the day for the night, he would lay out on his side, with his legs all splayed out, and it didn’t matter how much activity was happening around him, he was chilling. I nicknamed him Honey Badger, ’cause he didn’t care. And then there was my spirit rabbit, a shy sable colored female named Tinkerbell. Why her, you wonder? She is an independent spirit, and, here’s where we have a special bond, her run was always the cleanest of all the rabbits. The girl likes a neat home. Now, who does that sound like? Oh, I know! Me! Loved that girl.
Back to the bunny rescue area of the sanctuary, which originally had 400 of 1600 rabbits rescused from an animal hoarding situation in Reno, Nevada in 2006. Coming up on 11 years later, about 10 of the rabbits from the original 400 remain. Many were sick, injured, with all sorts of medical issues, and a large area of the property at the sanctuary was set up for their care. If this isn’t an example of the amazing compassion of this sanctuary, I don’t know what is. To take on such an overwhelming number of animals at once and provide shelter, food, medical care, and kindness — well, that’s really what it’s all about in this line of work. Interns spend one morning shift at the bunny rescue area with members from the medical tech team, learning about their medical care, as well as cleaning all of the indoor pens. I think there are seven pens with ten total rabbits at this point, and this yurt structure is the only remaining one out of the former group of many. It was quite humbling, really.
Toward the end of the week, I was able to spend a few moments with Arthur and Bobbie while doing rounds of their afternoon greens.
An important note is that the bunnies are not allowed to be picked up by volunteers, as they generally do not like it, but as an intern I had the permission of the senior caregiver for this intern photo, as Arthur is one of the most socialized rabbits in their care.
Next up: Week Three in Cats!