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From 4 April 2004 Issue

Easter Bunnies and Blue Chickens
by Greg Lawson - ParkStranger@aol.com

I grew up in the fifties in East Tennessee. Back then even the suburbs of a city like Knoxville were rural areas, and it seems like rural folks associate holidays with animal abuse in so many different forms.

I remember Easters. I recall the Easter baskets my parents would prepare with candy and colored eggs and sometimes even live chicks and ducklings. The chicks and ducks would grow up and lose the blue or pink food coloring they had been dyed with and we would have to find them a new home.

There was a duck pond in a park just three blocks from where I lived. I can remember saying goodbye to a duck who had grown too large for our backyard. I turned him lose in that pond and cried.

I also remember the fate of some of the chicks. When they outgrew their chick cuteness (and blue and pink coloring) we gave them to a lady a few houses away who raised chickens for eggs and food.

One day is clearly imprinted in my mind from when I was five years old. My grandmother bought one of the chickens from this lady down the street. I watched as my grandmother held the chicken by it's head and twirled it around until the head was separated from the body. The body ran around the backyard for a minute before dropping. Then it was plucked, cut into pieces, breaded and deep fried. I always have wondered if that was one of those little blue chicks I had hand-fed corn. Fried chicken never tasted the same after that.

I remember an Easter where I got a baby rabbit. It had been dyed pink. Somehow, I don't remember the fate of that rabbit. It probably wasn't very good. All I remember is that we kept the poor creature in a small cage in the backyard. That is a terrible way for a child to learn about animals.

Now is the time to write your local newspapers and ask people not to give live animals as Easter treats. The practice still persists, and it must end.

Too many people hold the opinion that rabbits are easy to take care of and therefore make good pets for children. Unfortunately, this had led to rabbits being the third most euthanized animals in our nation's shelters after dogs and cats.

Margo DeMello is the president and executive director of House Rabbit Society, a nonprofit rabbit rescue organization, based in Richmond, California. I had the pleasure of meeting Margo at FARM's annual conference Animal Rights 2003. She will be guest speaker at the Vegetarian Society of El Paso's Compassionate Thanksgiving dinner next November.

Margo and Susan Davis have written a terrific book which explores all aspects of rabbits, from their behavior to the way our society views rabbits. Stories Rabbits Tell is the book to read to gain understanding about this complex animal.

It explains the history of the rabbit as a domestic pet, and the efforts by people to eradicate them as pests. There is an intriguing section on rabbits as cultural icons: their use in commercials, appearances in children's stories, myth and folklore. We are even given insight as to how and why Hugh Hefner picked the bunny logo for Playboy.

There are also several chapters that are difficult to read that deal with the rabbit meat industry, the rabbit fur industry and their use in vivisection labs. While these topics are disquieting, this is information we all need to know. Stories Rabbits Tell is a fascinating book that seems to cover everything about rabbits and the way we treat them.

For information about House Rabbit Society, visit their Web site at http://www.rabbit.org/

For more information about Stories Rabbits Tell visit this page...
http://www.rabbit.org/links/sections/stories-rabbits-tell.html 

Have a happy and compassionate Easter.

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