Is there a more maligned animal than the bunny rabbit? It’s dead meat if it ever shows its floppy ears in Queensland, and it’s more than likely bound for the pot if it’s caught elsewhere. Few adorable critters have had not one but two devastating viruses crafted just for them.
That’s the problem Judi and Bryce Inglis encounter on a daily basis in their struggle to keep their nonprofit Rabbit Run-Away Orphanage afloat. Being out in country Victoria – Olinda, to be precise – their neighbours are more likely to consider bun-buns to be a pest than a treasure.
The couple started rescuing rabbits around eight years ago, when they found quite a few domesticated bunnies straying onto their property (they suspect there may have been backyard breeders in the area). When word got around that they had a suitable set-up for strays, people started bringing them rescue bunnies, often those that had been endlessly passed around school children and neglected or over-handled. In 2009 the orphanage achieved charity status.
Once someone brings the orphanage a stray, their mission is to find foster carers and adoptive homes
. Even when the Inglis property is packed to capacity, taking bunnies to nearby shelters isn’t an option, as rabbits with health issues tend to be put-down. The Rabbit Run-Away Orphanage has a no-kill policy, which means they desperately need funds for the ongoing vet care of their furry charges. It costs them $500-600 per surgical procedure, which can include problems dental abscesses, eye removal, head tilt and (don’t laugh) floppy bunny syndrome.
If you’ve found a bunny that needs a home
At present the couple can’t take on any more bunny strays, but they can advise you on where to take any stray you might find, plus they have a wealth of useful information for rabbit owners on their website.
If you want a bunny
If you’re interested in owning a rabbit, carers must pass certain criteria. You can drop in at weekends between 1-4pm, or during the week by appointment. If you already have a pet rabbit that you’re looking for a companion
for, Judi and Bryce can give it a ‘bunny bonding date’, to find one of their own animals that is compatible. You can also look out for their stand at the 2013 Royal Melbourne Show.
“They’re not a pet for every lifestyle,” warns Judi. “They’re promoted as a child’s pet, which they’re not. They’re prey animal – and that instinct sits behind all their behaviour. They have very sensitive, unique health needs and should be kept as a house pet
, because that’s a safer environment. All animals need to be de-sexed, particularly rabbits.”
If you’d like to help
The orphanage is always looking for volunteers
. There's no professional fundraiser team, so any financial aid is of course appreciated. You can donate, or sell articles on their eBay auction site to raise funds.