Springtime brings a wave of relief for most winter-haters suffering through Wisconsin’s harsh chill. The weather is warmer, the sun is out, we only get snowstorms once every couple weeks instead of once every couple days, and life, overall, seems better.
Along with all these positive vibes comes new life, usually in the form of adorable baby springtime animals. In particular, any animal you can spot in an Easter decoration (bunnies, chicks, fawns, etc.) These animals are staples of springtime, and absolutely fawned over by most children.
It’s around springtime that it dawns on the younger generations that, yes, these animals are adorable, and most of them can even be kept as pets. Once this realization has been met, children will most likely proceed to phase two of their operation: begging their parents to get them one.
Giving small animals like bunnies and chicks as gifts around Easter time has been a steadily increasing occurrence in today’s society. After all, it’s just one rabbit, right? Or just one or two little chicks? What more work can be done for it than letting the kids “take care of it” and occasionally throwing the animal a bit of food when the kids neglect to do so? They’re basically just mammalian / avian goldfish.
As it turns out, that one rabbit and/or two chicks are a lot more than most families bargained for. In fact, upwards of 90% of “Easter bunnies” adopted around Easter are returned to shelters or set loose in the wild after they outgrow their “bunny” stage. Each year the Dane County Humane Society has to put up signs warning of this trend, and warning eager parents away from their “fun and adorable” Easter surprise, but it is often to no avail.
Bunnies are no goldfish. They require time, effort and money. Buying a cage and some food for it is simply not enough. Just like cats and dogs, bunnies need toys, specialized diets, large living spaces, and adequate enrichment in the form of play time.
Buying a bunny isn’t a special one-time deal, it’s a commitment. And most families, discovering they aren’t able to commit to this animal, decide releasing it into the wild rather than returning it to a shelter is the best option (a fate that is also shared with goldfish and occasional cats and dogs.)
The bunnies you see in a shelter are domesticated creatures (as are cats and dogs.) Upon being released into the wild, they will not revert to their “natural, wild state.” In fact, they will die. Their wilderness instincts have long since been bred out of them, and they will not survive.
So, the next time someone you know is considering giving a springtime animal as a special Easter present, tell them to opt for the stuffed variety. New pets are a commitment, no matter the species. And the wilderness is harsh, no matter the season.