Hare Do's and Don'ts

Ducks and chicks and bunnies better scurry. Easter is here and there are still people who think it's cute to give little baby barnyard animals as gifts, without realizing that chicks grow up to be hens and roosters, ducklings grow into nasty honkers, and bunnies often live ten years or more, with some breeds weighing over twenty pounds when they reach rabbit adulthood.

"Rabbits are not low-maintenance pets," says Margo DeMello, administrative director of House Rabbit Society, an international nonprofit organization that rescues abandoned and neglected domestic rabbits and provides education about the care and behavior of rabbits. "They require at least the same amount of work as a cat or dog, and an adult should be the primary caretaker." Proper care of a rabbit includes having it spayed or neutered; training it to use a litter box (which is quite easy; those lagomorphs are darn smart); and providing a safe space for it to run, hop, and leap several hours each day. "They are incredibly social," says DeMello, "and should live indoors as members of the family, just like dogs and cats."

Now that you've scratched "bunny" off your list of things to stuff in an Easter basket, what are you going to nestle in that plastic grass? Dana Krempels, president of the Miami chapter of the House Rabbit Society, recommends chocolate bunnies, of course. The "Make Mine Chocolate" campaign (www.makeminechocolate.org) started by the Columbus, Ohio chapter sells rabbit pins to raise funds and awareness of the responsibility that comes with pet ownership. And you can throw in a couple of those Cadbury cream eggs too.

Because most of you won't be chasing a live rabbit around your house this weekend, here are a few ideas of what to do after you've stuffed yourself with a couple dozen toxic-shock pink Marshmallow Peeps:

Saturday, March 26, you can hop over to Venetian Pool (2701 De Soto Blvd., Coral Gables) for breakfast with the Easter Bunny, beginning at 9:00 a.m. Wear your best Easter bonnet for a contest that follows. Admission starts at $17 for Gables residents and $22 for nonresidents. Call 305-460-5306.

After brunch you can take the kids to the Great Miami Metrozoo Egg Safari (12400 SW 152nd St., Miami) from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. March 26 and 27. Children under age 13 can hunt for Easter eggs, play in a bounce house, and get their faces painted. The egg safari is free with paid admission, which is $11.50 for adults and $6.75 for children ages 3 to 12. Call 305-251-0400, or visit www.miamimetrozoo.com.

Parrot Jungle Island (1111 Parrot Jungle Trail, Watson Island) is also hosting an egg hunt from Friday, March 25, through Sunday, March 27, starting at 10:00 each morning. There will be games, prizes, and three stage shows. Tickets cost $24.95 for adults and $19.95 for children ages 3 to 10; parking costs $6. Call 305-258-6453, or visit www.parrotjungle.com.

 
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