Sunday, August 21, 2011

And babies grow up...

Back in June Linda Barcklay, the founder and director of Mindy's Memory Primate Sanctuary, was brought 3 baby cottontail rabbits someone had found when mowing their lawn. Linda knew I volunteered out at Heartland Rabbit Rescue and asked if I could help out. Linda, like most rescuers and sanctuary operators, often ends up with animals belonging to species other than the ones they concentrate on. Her sanctuary has a number of dogs that for one reason or other have ended up living there and she knew her land would be unsuitable as a place to try to return these little ones back to the wild. (by the way, if you discover some wild babies, unless there is a compelling reason not to, it is best to leave them alone)

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.
 The babies are being released early in the morning and while they are tiny they are fully able to survive on their you can see from this photo of one taken a few weeks after their release.

One of the cotties a few weeks after the release, notice the ear size.
 These (and all bunny folk) rabbits rely on their hearing (along with their smelling and seeing) capabilities to alert them to danger. They are prey animals and must constantly be on guard to avoid those that might harm them, their ears are a serious part of their ability to stay away from harm.

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.


Andrew Hunt said...

This is a very moving post. Thank you for reminding readers of the fabulous work that these wonderful sanctuary folks do on a day-to-day basis. It is a great way to get involved to help animals. And to the animals you help, it makes all the difference in the world.

Christina said...

Saw a bunch of the cotties last night. My mom was amazed by how close they came to us. (I took her out Sat night for some bunny lovins)

veganelder said...

Thanks for commenting Andrew. I feel very fortunate to have the cluster of sanctuaries that exist here...and the folks that created them are great people.

veganelder said...

Thanks for commenting Christina. The cotties are sight indeed...I'm glad your mom got to see them.

Anonymous said...

Oh what lovely bun-buns!
I might just have to adopt one in the near future!

veganelder said...

Thank you for commenting DEM. Yep, they are nifty looking buns. You wouldn't enjoy adopting these though...these are cottontails and are wild...they do not do well at all if in captivity...probably they would break their necks running into their enclosure trying to escape or die from fear due to being close to a human. All the buns that are kept by Heartland are homeless can see some of them here ( and anyplace caring for homeless rabbits would be a good location to find a bunny needing a family.

The little cotties shown run wild around the Heartland property and aren't kept in any kind of enclosure...we think they hang around because they feel safe. It's sort of a gift that they let us see them.

If you want to learn more about the domestics the Heartland site has lots of info and the House Rabbit Society has tons of information about their behavior, etc.

Bea Elliott said...

Awww... That little guy (or gal) in the video is so cute! Love the little white marking on the forehead! Wonder, if like a horse you'd call it a star?

Photos are adorable too... Am so glad they got to stay wild - Just as it should be. <3

veganelder said...

Thank you for commenting Bea. The cotties are still around, and being themselves.