Long Island Rabbit Show
Tiffany and I went to the Long Island Rabbit Breeders Association’s annual show today at the Old Bethpage Village in Long Island. The village was a restored 19th century village with old homes and livestock propped for tourists. You can see pictures of the village on Tiffany’s xanga.
I had a preconceived notion of what I’d find at the rabbit show today. I knew it was a show put on by rabbit breeders which I’ve grown to dislike from what I’ve learned from reading about house rabbits and through my HRN. I figured that all the rabbits would be in tight quarters and look miserable. They’d all have yellow feet and be sitting in their own filth. Turns out, I was not entirely correct and I was not entirely wrong either.
The show was for all the rabbit breeders on Long Island to come together and have professionals judge the quality of their rabbits. There were rabbits of all sizes and breeds. I, of course, was mostly interested in the Dutch and Flemish Giants that were there. The judges took each rabbit and judged them by how proportionate they were from head to butt. They looked at the symmetry of their ears and the slope of the rabbit’s behinds. They also felt their fur and feet to judge how smooth and big they were. I watched several different judges judge several different types of rabbits and I couldn’t really tell how they judged one rabbit superior to another. However, that’s not that important. What fascinated me was the ease with which they handled the bunnies. They would simply scoop them up or pick them up by the skin on the rabbit’s backs. I was always told not to do that to bunnies because it hurts them. However, watching them do it, the bunnies actually look quite comfortable. The bunnies were not screaming in pain or thrashing about in discomfort.
Some of the rabbits waiting to be shown or sold were in rather small cages. Some were just big enough for a rabbit to sit in but not big enough for them to lie down to move around in. They were all wire cage floors for easy cleaning but not much for comfort. They all looked clean and well kept however.
Tiffany and I also saw some hares. The only thing I have to say about them is that they’re ugly.
So my real experience at the rabbit show was not as horrible as my preconception had led me to imagine. I still think that breeders shouldn’t breed so many rabbits because they sell them to homes that are not ideal for rabbits and eventually they end up in shelters and abandoned. However, it seems that the rabbits are treated well (at least the ones we saw today at the show). Tiffany and I were talking after the show and we agreed that the rabbits at the show were generally happy because they don’t know a life other than that of a rabbitry. It would be much different if I put Juju and Ginger or Tiffany placed Appa and Jlo at a rabbitry suddenly. They would not be happy because they’ve grown up with a different lifestyle and different set of rules. The rabbit culture was another difference we observed. The rabbits at the show belonged to a culture where the rabbits clearly knew that the humans owned and controlled them. Our rabbits and the HRN’s rabbits live in a culture where the rabbits get free roam and they own and control the humans. Better or worse? I don’t know – but definitely different.