REV, a recently formed group of vegan advocates and activists who, as part of their mission, wanted to become familiar with and to help the various organizations in the area that are devoted to rescuing/sheltering the victims of human depravity.
Getting ready for a group visit is sort of like having company come to your house...lots of picking up and tidying in addition to your usual tasks. Several faithful HRR supporters pitched in and helped with the extra effort but as usual the brunt was carried by Jeannie (the director) and Brad (her husband).
The bunnies are usually interested when visitors come because that often means treats for them and this visit was no exception...carrots were shared with everyone who wanted them and peas with those who had different tastes.
|Buckley takes his carrot from Gillian.|
It is always an interesting experience when we have visitors. This group was particularly unique in that all were vegans of the ethical type hence their perspective was different than most who come to encounter the Heartland rabbits.
First time visitors have no idea what to expect when they arrive...and...many of the rabbits are always a little anxious when meeting strangers.
|Mark (human vegan) and Judy (donkey) in foreground.|
By disconcerting I mean the time (I was told about this, I wasn't present) a visitor casually reached over into one of the bunny enclosures and started picking up one of the bunnies by the scruff of the neck like kittens or puppies are sometimes lifted. This was a visitor who thought she knew all about rabbits and was perfectly self-assured that she knew how to "handle" a bunny. Often those who think they know about the rabbit tribe are humans who have the most misinformation and pose a real risk to rabbit safety. Rabbit mothers do not carry their babies the way mom cats and mom dogs do and rabbit physiology is not conducive to being manipulated in this way. A danger of serious injury to a rabbit exists if one is picked up by the skin on neck/back area. Picking up a bunny, even correctly, is always a tricky and somewhat risky maneuver...doing it carelessly or ignorantly can lead to disaster.
This woman was thoroughly mis-informed and, as is often the case with those brimming with erroneous information, absolutely certain that she knew what she was doing. So...visitors are fun...but....
That wasn't the case this day. I kept noticing a different feel to the atmosphere (compared to other visiting events) but I couldn't figure out what it was until some time passed. Finally I realized that the difference was that each of these people had already made the leap to grasping that each living being is an individual and that each living being is worthy of value and respect simply by virtue of their existence. They weren't meeting "animals" or "things" or an "it". They were meeting unique and complex and feeling beings who were different from them and also the same (in many ways) as them.
It was a really powerful experience for me to see a whole group of humans approach these former victims of human neglect, greed and callousness with interest and respect and care and without condescension or entitlement or patronization or superiority. Those latter attitudes are ingrained in most of us throughout our lives as "appropriate" ways of viewing and interacting with Earthlings who aren't human. There was none of that present during the visit. I was truly blown away. It was terrific and exciting and just impossible to reduce to mere words.
|Griffin 'pancakes' for rubs from Amanda.|
The visitors were attentive and eager to learn and to help and pitched in on some cleaning and other tasks...but one of the most important things that visitors can provide for bunnies is interaction.
Humans tend to view 'petting' as a casual, optional kind of thing but providing socialization and contact comfort experiences for the bunnies is very important and one of the most needed yet often underdone because it is so time intensive and other tasks are so pressing.
Consider...there are more than 100 bunnies currently living at HRR, if 5 minutes of interaction were to be given to each resident that would take one human more than 8 hours to achieve each day. Scenario that out to 7 days a week then you're talking more than 56 hours...every week. Couple that with the time needed for the necessary daily tasks of providing food, water, hay, cleaning, nail-trimming, medical attention and on and on. You get the idea...there just isn't enough time. So...whenever extra kind and caring hands are available it is a major boon.
I noticed that many of the bunnies were not as shy or apprehensive as they often are when meeting new people. That's just an impression and obviously it could be wrong but it might accurate and maybe...just maybe it could be because the bunnies knew their visitors were vegan.
Consider the results of this study...it suggests that even poor smellers like human animals can detect differences between the body odors of those who eat meat and those who don't. Rabbits have about 20x more cells devoted to olfactory detection than do humans...hence it is not unlikely that the bunnies knew they were being visited by folks who don't routinely ingest the results of violence against others...or at least don't smell as unpleasant as those who do.
|Buckley (bunny) and Sandy (human vegan).|
So, the bunnies had carrots and attention and massages from nice smelling humans...what a day!
The bunnies recognized (nose-wise and attitude-wise) that this group was different. The whole experience was unique and very very positive.
It made my brain start running out scenarios...for instance...maybe it would be a good idea for vegan groups or individuals everywhere to start making trips to rescues and sanctuaries (especially those facilities that aren't vegan) on a regular basis. To serve as ambassadors and carry the message to our fellow Earthlings that not all humans routinely harm others. Think about the residents of those rescues and sanctuaries who provide refuge for the 'domesticated' Earthlings who are routinely harmed or killed by human animals...the 'farmed' beings. It might be an uplifting experience for them to discover that all human beings aren't eaters of beings, or that their rescuers aren't the only vegan humans on the planet.
What would it be like if you lived among beings who controlled everything you did...who had power over you...and also killed and ate your relatives (and/or you)...and you never knew that some of those beings with power were harmless...were conscientious objectors in the war on you and your kind...who didn't kill or eat living beings. It would be like living in a nightmare and never knowing that the originators of that nightmare could be any different. How awful, how terribly and deeply awful.
|Marie (bunny) and Angie (human vegan).|
Consider how few vegans there are (relatively speaking) and how many human harmed beings there are. How many of the victims died never having met any humans who were their allies?
The HRR residents interact with human vegans daily, on this occasion they were able to meet and interact with many human vegans. The whole day was one of smiles and good feelings. It can be difficult to detect duck smiles...but they were there.
|Duck smiles all around (green peas in water...a big treat)|
Thank you Amanda, Angie, Gillian, Gina, Mark and Sandy.