The Rabbit Clan
The Kerulos Center’s The Tortoise and The Hare Sanctuary was inspired by a unexpected visit from a rabbit in dire need of rescue.
Executive Director Gay Bradshaw describes her surprise at this chance encounter:
One spring morning, while standing by the front window, I suddenly saw a flash of white break across the seamless green field. It took a few minutes for my brain to register what my eyes took in: a rabbit. A beautiful steel-grey and white bunny. Abandoned in the woods, Regina bounced into our lives. One life changed ours forever.
But after three short years, Reggie passed as suddenly as she had appeared. Our first sanctuary project, the Rabitat Habitat (now part of The Tortoise and The Hare Sanctuary), was inspired by this miracle angel. Tutored by Dr. Margo DeMello, President of the House Rabbit Society and Kerulos faculty member, we have created a space of heart to welcome other Rabbits in need.
Rabbit statistics are appalling. Similar to other industrialized animals, most rabbits remain nameless, their lives brutally cut short. The majority of the 6.2 million “pet” rabbits in the U.S. is relinquished or die within a year because of neglect, abuse, or carnage.
Rabbits of the Rabitat Habitat
Brothers Coco and Rafael were the first to grace us. They were rescued from the backyard meat industry having lived their entire lives in a tiny outdoor cage. Our third community member was the lovely fizz-Marie who came to us from the Red Barn Rabbit Rescue near Eugene, Oregon. She was followed by Sophia Bess and RoseMarie, the latter who was likely related to fizzMarie, both of whom were rescued from an appalling stack of backyard hutches where water and food had been withheld for more than a week.
Gone is the terrifying, bleak outside world that drives prisoners to seek refuge in the confines of the mind—an inner sanctuary that affords respite if only for a few moments. Today, the rabbits spend time breaking bread (or rather, carrots), nuzzling, and enjoying each other. Their Habitat provides both indoor and outdoor living. As Margo DeMello puts it, a protected outdoor area allows Rabbits to experience their “wild” selves. “Domestication” does not extinguish the soul’s need for communion with other nature.
The Lagomorph Mind
Meeting Reggie was indeed a “Harvey” moment. Her beautiful qualities were obvious, but there is something zigzag about a rabbit’s psyche. Getting to know Reggie involved our journey from one universe to another— expanding our perceptions to meet hers.To understand and appreciate Reggie’s values and her existential experience, we had to step out of human coordinates and look through the eyes of a Rabbit and live in Rabbit space. With this, Rabbit psyches seemed to zigzag much less. Where once we saw a zig there was a straight line of understanding. Where we had first seen a zag, there were now circles of love and laughter.