I offered to transport them to Wildcare Oklahoma where the knowledgeable folks there have lots of experience with nursing along baby wild rabbits and getting them prepared to return to wild living. Once I picked up the little ones I realized they might be old enough so that they wouldn't need to be bottle fed (or fed with a syringe) and took them on over to Heartland for the director there to evaluate them. It was decided they were mature enough that they were ready to dine on vegetation exclusively so they were put in a safe area at Heartland to wait until they were ready to be on their own. Once it was seen they were eating well and were energetic it was decided to release them on Heartland property.
The video shows their coming out into the world, they are being released near one of the warrens at Heartland where the vegetation has been allowed to grow and as it turns out they have chosen to stay in this area. It is now past the mid-point of August and each day that I go out to the sanctuary I see the babies hanging out, eating breakfast and eyeballing the sanctuary rabbits when we let them outside to get some exercise and fresh air. The domestic bunnies are much larger (usually, but not always) than the native cottontails but the two sorts of rabbits coexist quite well. If one of the domestics tries to get too close to a cottontail, the cottontail will move away just far enough to feel safe and continue grazing or sometimes just watching the antics of the rescued rabbits.
|One of the cotties a few weeks after the release, notice the ear size.|
This next picture was taken in August, about 6 or 7 weeks after the release. Here you can see one of the babies has grown even more. This particular bunny gives me they eye whenever I am tramping around doing chores but unless I make a sudden move or a loud noise, she (or he) pretty much ignores me and goes about looking for tasty plants without paying me too much mind.
|Here she (or he) is almost grown...and keeping an eye on me.|
It is somehow nourishing to have some wild ones accept your presence in their world, to not be a human who is a source of terror or pain or death for those we share our planet with.
Central Oklahoma has some really great folks who provide sanctuary for some of our fellow Earthlings. Mindy's Memory Primate Sanctuary takes in monkeys and primates, these are often refugees from laboratories or other settings where these living beings have been treated like objects and then discarded once they have served their 'usefulness'. Wildcare Oklahoma attempts to care for wild animals (native to Oklahoma) that have been disturbed or harmed in some way by humans or natural forces (storms, drought, etc.)...once rehabbed, Wildcare then releases the animal in a safe area. And of course, Heartland Rabbit Rescue. These three refugee centers operate within a 25 mile radius of Norman, Oklahoma (and I'm not mentioning the several rescues and sanctuaries for dogs and cats in the area), pretty amazing that there are so many committed and caring folks right around here.
Even if you don't operate a sanctuary or rescue, you can do your part to support the right of each living being to their own life by commencing to live as an ethical vegan. I would appreciate it and I guarantee you that the other animals will appreciate your choice.