Care of Bonnie Shulman

 Rabbit

I first read Richard Adams’ Watership Down in my 30s. It became my life’s best book, defining my thoughts on life and death, war, conflict and friendship, personality and destiny. Watership Down is about rabbits. Each rabbit represents one of us. Read the book again, it’s worth at least 30 reads by my estimation.

Which rabbit are you? Which would you rather be? As described in the book, rabbits truly have a hard life. Being prey animals, they are constantly on the watch for hawks, owls, wolves, bobcats and foxes not to mention wild or domesticated dogs. However, as they are considered vermin by farmers and proud owners of vegetable plots, their biggest enemy is humans. Rabbits in Australia and New Zealand are considered to be such a pest that land owners are legally obliged to control them. Rabbits are both hunted and bred for meat, and are most often killed by hitting the back of their heads.

I recall a food editor of a major Canadian newspaper buying a rabbit, raising it to adulthood, and then, cuddling it close, killing it with a smash of a rock to the back of the head. “I wanted to see what rabbit tasted like,” she wrote. We could see the rabbit’s sweet face in the newspaper picture. The writer, though, chose not to show her face as she cuddled the rabbit. Why? Because killing animals is an ugly, horrid thing to do, and people who do it know it, deep down.

There’s a shame there that they do not wish to acknowledge. Vegans who do not wear animal products beware: rabbit pelts are sometimes used to make scarves or hats. Angora rabbits are bred for their long, fine hair, which can be sheared and harvested like sheep wool. Read clothing labels closely, is my advice.