Rabbit Rescue of Minnesota is dedicated to helping buns in need. The local nonprofit organization takes in unwanted domesticated rabbits whether they have been abused, neglected, abandoned, or released by farms, and gives them shelter, medicine, food that is good for rabbits, and love.
“I have always been an animal advocate,” said DJ Mans, CEO and co-owner of Rabbit Rescue of Minnesota. “I discovered just how few resources are available for rabbits in need when I rescued one eight years ago. I started my own grass roots rescue, and ran it for several years until Stephanie Verdoorn came into my life. We decided to become a non-profit so we could accept donations from the public and create legal fundraisers. Our organization now comprises 20 to 25 private foster homes that care for about 60 rabbits all together. We are grateful for the help of our volunteer foster homes, as well as our veterinarian partners, administrative team, and generous financial supporters.
“A lot of rabbits come to us from people who adopted them before learning how much maintenance they need. The month following Easter, unfortunately, is one of our busiest times of the year. Rabbits are not conducive to young children because they are so fragile. As a prey animal they associate being lifted up with danger, and even a fall from a child’s height can break their legs. Our other rabbits have spent much of their lives in cages at meat and fur farms, or tiny hutches where they had to fend for themselves.
“Cages and hutches are not allowed in our rescue. Our rabbits have their own enclosures to retire to when they feel like it, but they’re also able to roam around free in a bunny-proofed house. They have access to an endless supply of timothy hay and orchardgrass, as well as fresh greens and food pellets. They receive yearly health checks, have their nails trimmed every three to four months, and get a certain operation that puts an end to their multiplying days.
“Every rabbit we take in becomes part of a family. They’re social creatures, so we give them love. When rabbits get everything they need to be happy, they show it by doing ‘binkies’ and ‘zoomies’ – jumping straight up into the air and spinning around like a helicopter, and darting around the room in every direction at once. This is pure joy.
“Happy rabbits also begin to show their unique personalities. Some are clownish. Some are affectionate. Others can be downright sassy, and even mischievous at times. Of the 250 rabbits I’ve cared for so far, no two have ever had the same demeanor. I have one rabbit named Abilene. If I sit down to pet her while I’m holding a cup of coffee or a bottle of water, she’ll ignore it. But if I’m holding my phone, she’ll yank it out of my hand with her teeth and throw it away. She knows that phone could take attention away from her.
“When rabbits sense danger or feel frustration, they do something called thumping – beating the ground beneath them with their hind legs. Late one night while my husband and I were sleeping, our rabbits Duke, Daisy and Annabelle started thumping all together at once. We got up in the morning wondering what it was all about, only to discover that our living room ceiling had sprung a leak overnight. Rabbits are very structured creatures who will put up with surprisingly little nonsense, so they were sounding off their disapproval of the dripping!
“Some people think all rabbits are sweet, but they’re not always. I have a rabbit named Ginny who is sweet as sugar when you hold her, pet her, or let her sit on your lap. But if you walk into her own room, she’ll dart out to growl and attack your feet. She was horribly abused in her old life, and is unadoptable because of it. Hopefully she’ll realize one day that I’m just the maid, not an intruder.”
Rabbit Rescue of Minnesota has recently made a splash in town for the bunny yoga they offer at the Eden Prairie Community Center. Yoga, you see, is a unique physical exertion in that it benefits from the inclusion of many different kinds of animals. Dogs, cats, and even goats have all been added to yoga before, much to the delight of yogis. (But never all at once, because that would be pure chaos.) The bun takes the calming effect of yoga to greater heights than ever before, and it manages to do so merely by existing. It’s that cute.
“Yoga is the ultimate way to interact with a rabbit,” explained DJ, “because where are you? You’re on the floor, where you can gain rabbit’s trust by letting it come to you on its own terms. Pretty soon they might decide to climb up onto your back for a better look around the room.
“A rabbit is such a relaxing creature to look at. When I’m having a bad day, I just go sit in my rabbit room. Soon my heart rate goes down, and my anxiety is lifted. Yoga is an amazing way for buns and people to interact. It’s just fabulous!”
You can learn more about Rabbit Rescue of Minnesota’s mission and sign up for upcoming rabbit yoga sessions on rabbitrescueofmn.com.