On Mar. 30 the Rohnert Park Community Center was bright-eyed and fluffy-tailed with everything bunny for its third annual Sonoma County Bunfest. The free event, sponsored by the Animal Shelter League of Rohnert Park, was created to celebrate bunnies and give the public an opportunity to learn more about bunnies and their care through educational speakers and local rescue organizations.
“Bunnies are so overlooked in shelters and they’re marvelous little pets,” said Mickey Zeldes, Supervisor of the Rohnert Park Animal Shelter. “Dogs have their events and cats have their day and the poor rabbits didn’t have anything so we decided to take care of that! There’s nothing like this anywhere.”
According to Zeldes, rabbits are the third-most common animals at shelters after cats and dogs.
New this year at the Bunfest was a children’s activity center hosted by the City of Rohnert Park Community Services Department, which offered face painting, rabbit-themed crafts, coloring activities, games and a chance to plant a bunny herb garden. Besides being fun for children, the activities also helped keep them busy while their parents could listen to the speakers.
“Planting the herb garden was my favorite part – making bunny food!” said seven-year-old Kalleigh Henderson from Fairfield who was visiting her grandmother at the time. While not a bunny owner yet, she was hoping to get one and looking at some different options. “I would like a white one!” she said as her main criteria.
Besides meeting adoptable bunnies from various shelters and rescue groups on site, participants also learned from a series of educational speakers about bunny habits and care, shopped for fresh hay, toys, treats and beds for bunnies, and entered to win one of many raffle prizes.
“This event is for anybody who has any interest in rabbits at all,” said Zeldes. “Certainly people who have rabbits – some of our speakers are experts in the field and you can learn a ton and bring your questions, but if you’ve ever just thought about a rabbit and have no idea of their care, there is information from basic level all the way up to expert level.”
The event was specifically planned to fall before Easter, so that residents could be educated on the upkeep and care rabbits require, who can live for ten to twelve years, before possibly getting one for their children.
Besides many adoptable bunnies being on hand to pet from the Rohnert Park Animal Shelter, there were also others from other rescue organizations such as Stockton-based Harvest Home Animal Sanctuary, Richmond-based House Rabbit Society, and Mill Valley-based SaveABunny.
“We like the bunnies!” said eight-year old Sophia and six-year old Alana Tramel from Rohnert Park. “We don’t have a bunny but are here to check some out. The bunnies are really cute.”
Two veterinarians and two nationally renowned rabbit experts included the line-up of speakers. Anne Martin, Executive Director of the House Rabbit Society, led a talk titled “Why Does My Bunny Do That?” Marcy Berman, Founder and Executive Director of SaveABunny, Inc. offered advice on selecting the right bunny for your family, Lisa Pesch Marinho, DVM from Animal Healing Arts gave a talk on holistic health care for rabbits, and Lynne Lankes, DVM from Heritage Veterinary Hospital, talked about bunny illness prevention 101.
“I think people walk away having learned something and having had a good time,” said Zeldes. “People are either going to do something different with their rabbit because they learned something that will improve their life, or now will consider getting a rabbit because they’ve been turned on to what a cute pet they are, with some knowledge to go along with it. It’s great.”