Bunny Bunch Picnic Combines Fun And Education

Rabbit stories, rabbit information, rabbit products and raising money to help homeless rabbits were all part of the day at the 4th Annual Bunny Bunch Picnic.

People streamed into the picnic area with bunnies in carriers and exercise pens to set up at the 4th Annual Bunny Bunch Picnic earlier this month in Irvine, California. It was time to see other people’s bunnies, trade stories and so much more.

Carrie and Phil from Orange brought two of their rescued rabbits, Rusty and Adele, to the picnic. Rabbits entered their lives in 2000 when Phil gave Carrie a rabbit, the first pet she ever had. Three years later they rescued Peanut. In 2004, they helped rescue rabbits from a park in Anaheim that was known as a spot where people “dumped” unwanted pet rabbits. Last year they again helped rescue rabbits from the park. Although abandonments still occur, Phil said that the city of Anaheim has done a lot to be proactive about preventing people from abandoning their rabbits in the park. Carrie added that a fence is now around the cactus garden in the park, which prevents bunnies from getting wounds or losing an eye, as a bunny from the 2004 rescue did.

Although Carrie and Phil are proud of all their rabbits, Rusty got special mention because of his markings. They believe he is part Dutch, and he has one eye that is black on top and blue on the bottom.

In another exercise pen were Billy and Bruce, 8-month-old rabbits in a foster home who are looking to be adopted. Their foster mother said once-a-week brushing keeps even Bruce’s longer fur in great shape, and both are sweet bunnies who offer their heads for petting when they greet her in the morning.

One family brought their Dutch Dwarf rabbit Robbie to the picnic. A large sign by his exercise pen announced him to the world. Robbie’s “dad” works at a print shop, so making the sign was a natural idea and really showed their pride in Robbie. His “mom” admitted that Robbie is spoiled as she carefully placed a bed, carpeted tunnel, blanket, litter box, food and water into his exercise pen.

The Irvine Animal Care Center, which was host for the picnic, has a Bunny Yard and plenty of bunnies with stories of their own awaiting adoption. One large white rabbit was set up in an exercise pen around a tree with a sign on it saying that he had been at the center for nearly two years and needed a home.

Buttercup had a poster devoted to her that made her a spokesrabbit for the IACC Special Care Fund. She was sick when the IACC took her in and needed expensive surgery that was made possible because of the Fund. Three months after treatment, Buttercup is healthy and living in a new home.

Between hearing rabbit stories, attendees could shop the vendor tables, munch on snacks for themselves or buy salads for their bunnies. Bunnies could also spend 15 minutes per dollar in the two-level bunny playground. Wyatt, a Dutch mix, was first to test the playground and several other bunnies followed.

Vendor items included more than just toys, treats or accessories for rabbits. Rabbit-themed tapestry and jewelry were among the products to buy, and Diana Yoo was there with handmade cards.

After a pizza lunch, the large exercise pen for the playground was converted into several individual pens that were side by side so that the eating contests could begin.

The carrot-eating contest started the fun, but the rabbit contestants turned up their noses, so it became a banana-eating contest. Boots, a stunning black rabbit, emerged the winner. Round two of the banana eating contest went to Musubi. For the final round, carrots were tried again. This time, the contestants included a couple of guinea pigs and the rabbits were more interested in the carrots. Who won? The voracious Musubi again! The prize for each win? A small, stuffed rabbit toy and bragging rights. Musubi’s owners said their rabbit eats all the time.

A fluffy, white rabbit named Maya also competed in the eating contest. Although she didn’t win, people were able to see her up close and look into her hypnotic, pale blue eyes.

While some people cheered their rabbits on in the eating contest, others were having their pet groomed at the bunny spa or getting a professional portrait taken.

Caroline Charland, founder of the Bunny Bunch, which organized the picnic, told the story of Sgt. Thud Hopper, aka Sarg. Sarg is a Flemish Giant who lives at the Bunny Bunch and appears at educational events like the picnic. He was living next to three baby Flemish Giants, and they hopped into his pen one day and became his “stepchildren.” They all get along and Sarg is protective of them. This is unique, because bunnies often fight when first meeting.

Ms. Diggs, a cinnamon rabbit, enjoyed the picnic from a covered stroller pushed by her “mom.” A fellow picnicker heard her name and said she could just guess how Ms. Diggs earned it.

The picnic wrapped up with a talk about rabbit health by Dr. Sari Kanfer from the Exotic Animal Care Center in Pasadena. Kanfer brought along two rabbits who had been treated and needed a new home. Trinity had been unable to walk because of muscle wasting and a mite infestation, and CC’s broken rear leg required amputation. Both bunnies recovered well and are waiting for adoption.

Kanfer’s talk began with a question from the audience. The person’s bunny had been very loving before spay surgery, but in the weeks since was rather indifferent. Was this normal? Would the rabbit return to being loving? After answering, Kanfer launched into her talk with a warning about how quickly a rabbit, guinea pig or chinchilla’s condition can deteriorate once you first notice signs of a problem. Later, a question about head tilt sparked a lively discussion of treatment options. A lot of good information was shared. It’s impossible to summarize such a talk, which is one reason attending events like these is helpful. It also helps raise funds for nonprofit groups like the Bunny Bunch.

Charland said that the Bunny Bunch will be starting education classes at its Orange County location this summer. The Montclair location already offers such classes. Agility training and a Children For Guinea Pigs group are other upcoming activities to watch for.

When discussing the bunnies saved, Carrie and Phil said none of it could happen without a community of people who care about rabbits — people at the Irvine Animal Care Center, the Bunny Bunch and rabbit owners like themselves. And it’s true. Together, people can accomplish amazing things for bunnies.

Watch the video from the 4th Annual Bunny Bunch Picnic!

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