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The picturesque neighborhood of Jenada Isle in Wilton Manors, South Florida, is facing an adorable yet challenging problem – an overwhelming number of domesticated bunnies have taken over the area, outnumbering the 81 homes. This unique situation began to unfold two years ago when a resident allegedly released lionhead rabbits into the wild, and since then, their population has multiplied exponentially.
The community is now divided on how to handle this unprecedented situation. While some residents have taken extreme and alarming measures by threatening to harm the animals or feed them to snakes, others advocate letting the bunnies roam freely. Meanwhile, a compassionate group of individuals is racing to save the rabbits and provide them with proper care and shelter.
The East Coast Rabbit Rescue (ECRR), a dedicated nonprofit organization, has taken up the mantle to spearhead the effort to rescue and rehome these furry creatures. In a collaborative effort with the city police, the volunteer-run outfit successfully managed to rescue 19 rabbits, three of which were found to be pregnant.
However, the rescue mission has been far from easy. Monica Mitchell, the President of ECRR, explained that the biggest challenge has been the hostility from some residents who don’t want the bunnies to be taken away. Despite having a police officer present during the rescue mission to ensure safety, Mitchell urges the city to play a more proactive role and persuade the residents to allow the rescue to continue.
The lionhead rabbits, characterized by their fluffy manes encircling their heads, are ill-suited for the scorching Florida climate. Being prone to heat stroke, they have resorted to digging holes to escape the oppressive heat. Moreover, the lack of a steady source of clean water and food has led the rabbits to graze on lawns treated with toxic pesticides, posing a danger to their health. In addition, they are vulnerable to predators and vehicles, putting their lives at risk.
Rescuing and caring for these bunnies comes with a substantial financial burden. The West Palm Beach-based group estimates that they will need at least $40,000 to capture, neuter and spay, vaccinate, and microchip the over 100 rabbits. So far, they have raised over half of the required funds, but the costs keep adding up. Each rabbit’s care amounts to $200 to $300, excluding any additional medical attention that some of the rabbits may require.
The challenge intensifies when it comes to medical attention. Treating rabbits requires specialized care from exotic veterinarians, who are not as readily available as veterinarians for common pets. The rescue group anticipates high vet bills, which may even involve surgeries for some of the animals. Unfortunately, the closest vets capable of performing such surgeries may be several hours away, further complicating the process.
During a city council meeting, some members expressed concerns that addressing this bunny invasion could set a precedent for tackling other invasive animals like iguanas and ducks. Nevertheless, it is crucial to address the current issue with empathy and practical solutions, given that the rabbits descended from pets irresponsibly released by a former resident who moved out of state.
In this time of need, the ECRR seeks Support from the community. They call upon individuals to contribute donations, supplies, and even foster homes to care for the rescued rabbits. As the rescue group stated on its Facebook page, they are looking for people willing to foster bunnies in the West Palm Beach area, and in return, they promise to provide everything needed to ensure the well-being of these adorable creatures.
Click here to check out ECRR’s Facebook page and see how you can make a difference!
We encourage everyone thinking of getting a pet to only adopt instead of shopping. Read more resources about adopting animals on One Green Planet, including 7 Reasons to Adopt Your Next Furry Best Friend, 5 Reasons Why Everyone Should Adopt a Pet, and These Heartwarming Before and After Pictures of Adopted Rescue Animals Will Make Your Day! Read tips for pet adoptions and what to consider before adopting an animal. We recommend using these apps to find shelter dogs near you!
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