Rabbit

Oregon Zoo’s 12-year Effort to Save Endangered Pygmy Rabbits

Rabbits 1

The Oregon Zoo’s 12-year effort to save the endangered Columbia Basin Pygmy Rabbit drew to a close on July 19, when the zoo released its last 14 breeding rabbits and their offspring at the Sagebrush Flat Wildlife Area in eastern Washington. The Pygmy Rabbit is America’s smallest native rabbit, weighing less than one pound when fully grown, and is the country’s only burrow-digging and sagebrush-climbing rabbit. The shy species is dependent on sagebrush, which makes up the majority of its diet and grows in deep, loose soil, where the rabbits dig burrows.

“We’ve helped give these rabbits a chance for survival, and now it’s time to send them off into the world,” said Michael Illig, Oregon Zoo animal curator. “Our hope is that they’ll continue to breed and establish a stable population at Sagebrush Flat. A strong Pygmy Rabbit population there will keep the local community involved and help preserve the habitat.”

The recovery program ends on a high note for these federally endangered bunnies. Nearly 30 kits were born under the Oregon Zoo’s watch this year. The rabbits, currently housed at the zoo’s Jonsson Center for Wildlife Conservation in rural Clackamas County, are headed for a six-acre transitional enclosure at Sagebrush Flat that will acclimate the animals to their surroundings, encourage breeding and protect them from predators. Rabbits recently released from the enclosure have been tracked and are successfully living in the area — a good indication for future population growth, according to Illig.

Rabbit 2

Rabbit 3

Rabbit 4

Photo Credit: Oregon Zoo

Continue reading "Oregon Zoo’s 12-year Effort to Save Endangered Pygmy Rabbits" »


Orphan Baby Bunny in Good Hands

ZooBorns' focus is squarely on baby animals at accredited zoos and aquariums. However from time to time we come across stories of orphaned wildlife that found its way to a nature sanctuary or rehabilitation facility. Such is the case with this tiny baby cottontail rabbit that was turned into the Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center in Mystic, Connecticut. Its mother had been killed by a dog but luckily the baby was unharmed. Now in the hands of Wildlife Rescuers of Connecticut, the rabbit will be released back into the wild when it is old enough to fend for itself. Special thanks to Nikki Perkins for sharing her photos.

Baby cottontail rabbit pequot nature center 1

Baby cottontail rabbit pequot nature center 1

Baby cottontail rabbit pequot nature center 1

Baby cottontail rabbit pequot nature center 1Photo credits: Nikki Perkins


Meet the World's Smallest Rabbit

Columbia Basin Pygmy Rabbits are the world's smallest and among the rarest. Native only to a single area of Washington State, this once isolated population of Pygmy rabbits usually weighs less than a pound in adulthood and was declared extinct in the wild in the '90s, after the remaining 14 bunnies were scooped up and taken into the equivalent of bunny protective custody.

This year the Oregon Zoo welcomed 26 of the little guys, bringing this year's total to 73 baby bunnies (kits) among participating breeding facilities. Color is added to the ears in the pictures below so zoo staff can tell the kits apart. 

Baby pygmy rabbit kits oregon zoo 1 

Baby pygmy rabbit kits oregon zoo 2

Unlike most rabbits, the Columbia Basin Pygmy Rabbit did not breed prodigously in captivity, partially due to inbreeding within the tiny wild population. As a result they were cross bred with Idaho Pygmy Rabbits and subsequent breeding efforts have been more successful. Learn more by clicking on "Continue reading..." below or at the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife.

ZooBorns-The-Next-Generation2

Continue reading "Meet the World's Smallest Rabbit" »