Six furry, floppy-eared cottontails dubbed the “Las Vegas bunnies” have arrived at an animal rescue center in Arlington after many others were poisoned in Nevada.
In a Facebook message, the Animal Welfare League of Arlington wrote, “The Las Vegas bunnies have arrived!”
The animal welfare group said it got the rabbits — each about 3 to 4 months old and certifiably “adorable” — after a National Geographic article detailed the “horrific” state of more than 30 domestic rabbits that had been abandoned and poisoned in Las Vegas.
The Arlington animal welfare group said it was contacted about taking in some of the rabbits to “save them from an uncertain fate.” According to the group’s Facebook post, it said “yes right away!”
The rabbits were driven from Las Vegas to the league’s facility in Arlington. After arriving this week, officials with the welfare league said the rabbits will “need some time to settle in and get used to their new surroundings.” They will also be spayed and neutered, then ready for adoption.
The rabbits’ tale started in Las Vegas, according to the National Geographic article, where about two dozen were found poisoned outside a children’s psychiatric facility. Staff at the state-run treatment center apparently had released a pair of pet rabbits on the grounds of the Desert Willow Treatment Center, the article stated.
Their thought: The furry rabbits would be therapeutic for the youth there.
There was one problem — the rabbits bred. And bred. And bred.
There are an estimated 800 to 1,000 domestic rabbits now on the center’s grounds. A group of volunteers cared for them and rescued many of them. But this past weekend, they found that more than 30 rabbits “lay dead all over the grounds,” according to the National Geographic story.
Volunteers said the rabbits had no signs of injuries, so they believed they were poisoned. A Las Vegas-based rescue group called Bunnies Matter posted a video on Facebook, titled “Bunnies Matter in Vegas too,” that was recorded while finding the rabbits.
In the video, Stacey Taylor — who National Geographic said runs the Las Vegas bunny rescue group — says as her voice shakes, “We are finding and collecting the dead bodies of our friends.”
The group rescued dozens of live rabbits from the grounds, and those are among the ones that have come to Arlington. Volunteers from the Arlington area drove to Las Vegas to get them. Other rescued bunnies have gone to Raleigh, N.C.
According to National Geographic, a volunteer keeping watch one recent night at the property saw a car “drive up and dump out a pile of lettuce before quickly driving away.” The rabbits started eating it, and the volunteer discovered it was “coated in antifreeze — a lethal toxin,” the article says.
It is not clear how the volunteers or the magazine determined that the lettuce was tainted.
For those who think they want a cuddly bunny for Easter, experts warn it is not that simple.
Animal rights groups have pointed out that after dogs and cats, rabbits are the third-most-abandoned animal. People think they are cute, cuddly and easy to care for, but they actually have special needs, experts said. And domestic rabbits cannot simply be released into the wild and expected to survive.