After Church services this coming Easter Sunday, many parents will unleash their children in the back yard in search of pastel-tinted Easter eggs deftly-hidden by mom and dad earlier that morning.
Their hunt complete, the kids will unwrap their booty of chocolate bunnies. Some may gingerly lick the outer contours (perhaps feeling slightly guilty about consuming so close a resemblance to a storybook pal) while others will unabashedly tear off an ear or a whole head to quiet a sugar craving.
A few Easter gatherings may even host a live, furry guest. No, not the established family dog or cat, but a real, live “Easter” bunny presented as a gift to a special boy or girl who always wanted one. Or at least that’s what the parents thought.
For some families, the gift of a bunny is a well-thought-out decision; a chance to initiate a child into the world of caretaking with a relatively “low-maintenance” pet. The timing seems all-too-perfect for a six- or seven-year-old whose sense of empathy is expanding to include beings outside him or herself.
But, for other families, the gift of a bunny proves a hasty choice. When the bunny grows into a less-cute and more time-intensive adult, the blush of bunny love can fade into boredom and shirked responsibility. What often follows is the “freeing” of these vulnerable and innocent creatures into a wild for which it is not prepared. Unfortunately, this scenario is repeated thousands of times every year.
The rescue group, NYC Metro Rabbits, reports that bunnies are the third most sheltered animal in the city (behind dogs and cats), though they are abandoned in disproportionate numbers in public places.
You may be tempted to get your son or daughter a cuddly bunny this Easter. Before you adopt, consider all the responsibilities involved in owning a bunny and determine whether your child is up to the task. Go to www.friendsofrabbits.org to learn more.
Real bunnies are not toys; they cannot be discarded like the colorful tin foil peeled from a chocolate treat. If you harbor ANY doubt as to whether your child will care for a living, breathing bunny, stick to the stuffed version. Enjoy Cadbury TM bunnies and curl up with Beatrix Potter or “Harvey”, the Jimmy Stewart classic about a guy who befriends an imaginary bunny. At least once the snacks are scarfed and the tales are told, no one is left alone and terrified – or dead.