Friday, 30 April 2010

In honour of Rabbit Awareness Week I present...

... my bunnies!First up is Gwyneth (left) and Flopsy (right) munching on some carrot. This was taken when they were just under a year old.This is Miffy (left) and his older brother Alife (right). They seem to be doing an aerobic routine with their ears, bless!Alfie, Flopsy and Miffy having a feast in their two tiered hutch/bachelor pad. What they are eating is pellets not bunny poo.Miffy seems happy to be having his picture taken.

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Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Bunny Awareness Week

From 26th April till 2nd May it is officially Rabbit Awareness Week. I only realised this today when I was on Facebook and found out via the PDSA who directed me to the official website RAW. Having looked through the site and cooed over all the lovely pictures it has made me think about how much I wish I still had my bunnies (I prefer to call them bunnies). They are in bunny heaven now and greatly missed.

It all started around ten years ago with Gwyneth and Flopsy (who were supposed to be sisters but turned out to be a couple). After months of nagging my parents finally allowed myself and my sister Emily to adopt two bunnies. We went to a pet shop and chose a beautiful black doe eyed bunny (Gwyneth) and a cuddly grey bunny with eyes you could drown in (Flopsy) as her companion. Our bunnies were in separate (tiny) cages but the shop owner assured us they were "both girls". He even picked them up and had a quick look at their nethers to make sure. Naively we believed him and thus began our era of bunnies. Reliving this story makes me feel embarrassed at how stupid I was not to realise that a) they were probably younger than he said they were, b) they were NOT "both girls" and c) we should have adopted our bunnies from a rescue organisation, not a pet shop (although I am glad we did end up with Gwyneth and Flopsy)

A month or so passed with no problems, I bought a book about bunnies and a "How to Train Your Rabbit" type manual which enlightened me to how intelligent bunnies are and how they can use a little tray and live in the house instead of outside in a hutch. We weren't allowed to do this though and my Dad kindly made a huge rabbit run and although we had a few issues with getting them out of the run and into their hutch at night everything was fine and they seemed happy enough.

It was a Saturday night, sometime in December, I checked up on them to see if they were warm enough and heard a funny noise that sounded a bit like a donkey grunting. When I opened the hutch I noticed that both bunnies were agitated and in the covered end of the hutch a large mound of bunny fluff had accumulated. A squeaking noise was coming from the mound of fluff and when I investigated I was greeted by five squirming pink blobs. Baby bunnies! I was stunned but then realised that whilst I was busy discovering this Flopsy was mounting Gwyneth and she was the one responsible for grunting like a donkey. I hang my head in shame when I remember that we mistakenly thought that Flopsy was Mummy Bunny and left him to look after the babies whilst removing Gwyneth. This caused her to grunt like a donkey even more alerting us to our mistake.

Eventually we came through the chaos and moved Flopsy into his own bachelor pad and arranged for him to be castrated. Gwyneth looked after the babies, unfortunately two of them didn't survive but the others did and they were absolutely gorgeous. News of the babies spread and despite my trying to hide them we had a little girl from down the road come to adopt some of the babies. I wanted to keep them all but it was actually a good thing that she came along as Gwyneth was pregnant again!

We didn't realise at the time but when we discovered her first litter and Flopsy was on top of her it was all it took for her to become pregnant (I now completely understand the phrase "at it like rabbits") After her first pregnancy I read up on the signs and symptoms and it wasn't long before I noticed Gwyneth nesting and helping herself to Flopsy's fluff to use in the nest (We moved the love birds back together once Flopsy was doctored) I knew at this point that we had less than a month before the new babies were due and things went a lot more smoothly the second time round.

As it turned out we ended up keeping just one bunny from the first litter (Alfie) and one bunny from the second litter (Miffy) and despite Miffy strangely trying to mount his Dad a few times they all lived happily together. Keeping bunnies was an exciting and rewarding adventure, I learnt an awful lot and have some brilliant and funny memories which I cherish. At some point when I have more time I will share some memories with you, but in the meantime in honor of Rabbit Awareness Week here are Five Interesting Facts About Bunnies...

  1. Bunnies teeth constantly grow throughout their life therefore they must have something to gnaw on in order to keep them at bay.
  2. A doe (female) is ready to breed at about 6 months of age and within 9 months can produce as many as 800 children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
  3. Bunnies have fragile bones, especially in their back so when picked up must be supported on their belly and bottom.
  4. Do you remember Thumper from Bambi? When a bunny stomps its foot like Thumper often did, it usually means s/he is warning you that s/he is uncomfortable or to warn predators to back off.
  5. Bunnies are very intelligent and just like dogs and cats can be trained to use a litter tray. Put the tray in place with some of their droppings inside, each time your bunny uses the tray offer a food based reward.

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Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Do you know who you're voting for?

It seems impossible not to think or talk about the upcoming General Election, I listen to Radio 4 at work every day and as I type this I am listening to Gordon Brown answering questions from the general pubic on subjects like fuel prices, public services, tax etc. I haven't decided who to vote for yet but I just can't bring myself to vote for a party that will lift the current ban on hunting.

I regularly write to my very nice MP (who happens to be Conservative) about animal related issues and wrote to her recently about the Hunting Act. As I expected she echoed the Conservative policy that if they were to win the General Election they want to lift the current ban despite 75% of the public disagreeing with this and wanting the Hunting Act in force. I do agree that the ban is very difficult and sometimes impossible to enforce, however, this doesn't mean that a ban won't work and organisations such as The League Against Cruel Sports work tirelessly gathering evidence on those who flout the ban to ensure this is upheld.

Before you decide who to vote for this May please take into account your candidates policies and find out what their views on hunting and animal welfare are as well as how they will make things better for you. Find your candidate here.

Information from League Against Cruel Sports

Please have a look at the RSPCA's website which outlines animal welfare issues they hope to see the next parliament work on.

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Monday, 26 April 2010

Save the Honey Bee!

We need to save the bumblebee.

Did you know that there are currently around 250 species of bee in the UK, 25 are native British bees and this is only half of what we had in the 1950s, 3 species of Bee have already become extinct and 5 are under serious threat with another 2 teetering on the brink? I have only become aware of this over the past few days and it is very worrying.

Why bother about bumblebees?

Some of you probably view bees as a bit of a pest and I know they make an annoying noise and it hurts when they sting us by they are actually very important and intelligent creatures. We have bees to thank for a lot of things, for example it is thanks to them that we are able to drink smoothies and eat fruit. Without bees we would lose our flora, fauna and one third of our diet. Bees help pollinate around 70% of all the crops on the planet. If all the bees die there is a chance that nothing will replace them meaning that many plants will simply die-off due to lack of pollination.

Without bees not only would there would be no honey, certain plants would not be able to reproduce and would cease to exist. This would then lead to the disappearance of certain animal species.

''If the bee became extinct, man would only survive a few years beyond it'' Albert Einstein

How to help:

There are many ways you can help, for a detailed list visit this interesting website

A fun and delicious way to help has been created by Innocent who have cleverly created a new smoothie called Buy One Get One Bee combining the flavours of lemon, honey and ginger, by buying a bottle or a carton of this delicious smoothie you can help the declining population of bees in several ways. For each carton/bottle you purchase Innocent promise to help the National Trust install 40 new beehives on their sites and provide beekeeping equipment to help introduce 2 million bees. Each bottle/carton comes with a free little packet of seeds which you can plant in your garden or a window box to help create a bee friendly area.

Sources: Wikipedia, Help Save Bees, Innocent, Google Images.

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Friday, 23 April 2010

In Animal News this week...

Dancing polar bears?

A collection of 40 pictures selected as the greatest nature photographs of all time were put on sale in New York for yesterday’s Earth Day. Pictures include dancing polar bears, giant tortoises, and several under water images. Money raised from the auction will be donated to four conservation organisations.


Brave Robin Red Breast

On Wednesday evening I unfortunately discovered a little robin lying dead in the grass. It looked like he had died of shock as there wasn’t a mark on him, poor thing. My first thought was to blame Rusty but there was a cheeky black cat hanging around so my suspicion has fallen on him. I happened upon a story in the newspaper about a bold little robin who has forged a close bond with a little girl and thought it was a nice story to share with you. It seems that the robin waits for the little girl named Lauren to come home from school each day and likes to take food from her hand. It is lovely to hear about this little girl loving animals and it certainly sounds like the feeling is mutual!


Forget The Dog Whisperer, new Rabbit Whisperer on the Block!

A lot of people were amazed at the story about the “Rabbit Whisperer” who appears to hypnotise rabbits, putting them in a trance or relaxed state to enable them to receive veterinary treatment or to calm rabbits with behavioural problems. There is some debate over whether this experience is stressful for rabbits and one suggestion is that the rabbit relaxes their muscles but remains highly alert and in a stressed state.


Planes for Pets?

One of my favourite stories this week… A new airline is set to launch in May but not your regular airline, it is the USA’s Pet Airway which will be flying pets from LA to the East Coast. Also on board the flight will be Pet Attendants who are the equivalent of air hostesses! Only pets are allowed to use this service but owners are able to monitor how their pets are doing. Sadly, in Britain, flights into the UK are forbidden from carrying pets in the main cabins (except guide dogs). However, in Spain it is possible for pets weighing no more than 17lbs to travel in a crate at the feet of their owners.


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Thursday, 22 April 2010

Canada's Seal Slaughter

On April 13th Canada’s annual seal cull began to wind down, despite record low ice cover and dwindling support, this years hunt went ahead with a higher quota than previous years. Thousands of seal pups have been brutally killed despite the Canadian governments declarations that the slaughter will be humane.

In 11 months time the slaughter will begin again, this gives us 11 months to work together and stop this once and for all.

There is good news… Last week Peta informed me that despite increasing the allowable catch of harp seals by cull to be scaled back and close early. This proves that tireless work from Animal Welfare Organisations such as Peta, Humane Society of the United States, Respect for Animals and IFAW really is paying off.

It is vital that we keep pressurising Canada to stop the seal cull for good.

Depending on where in the world you live you can do something important to help.

If you live in the EU

Simply enter your details and when you get to the “State” box just select “none”.

If you live in Canada

Your role is very important as you have more of a say than anyone from another country, please do what you can as it will really make a difference. There are several things you can do here and I promise it won’t take you very long at all.

If you live in the USA

Also, please can you complete this pledge and send it to the address at the bottom of the page?

If you have some extra time have a look here at what else you can do to help.

Resources and Futher Information from the HSUS and HSIC.

Pocket Guide to Boycotting Canadian Seafood

More Information

Fast Facts

Myths and Facts

Seals and Fisheries

Economics of the Seal Slaughter

Why the Canadian Government Supports the Seal Slaughter

I’m sorry for the information overload but this should give you everything you need to know about the seal cull and hopefully inspire you to take action.

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Wednesday, 21 April 2010

A small way to make a difference.

I have finally got around to combining all the piles of used stamps I habitually rip from envelopes and they are now ready to be sent to an animal charity. I usually send them to Guide Dogs for the Blind but want to give some other organisations a chance to make some money as well so after some research online I have come up with a list of other animal charities that accept used stamps:

Haworth Cat Rescue

PDSA (The address to send stamps to is, PO Box 9191, Wishaw, Lanarkshire, ML2 OYB)

Chaldon Animal Sanctuary


Guide Dogs for the Blind

I was wondering how collecting stamps actually helps raise money for these good causes and after more research it seems that stamps are sold in bulk by the animal charities to collectors which raises funds, a kilo of foreign stamps can raise £12 to £15. The Robert Murray Stamp Shop has an interesting article on this.

This is a simple and effective way to help raise much needed funds for animal charities. If you arrange to have a container near where you open your post, or where you dispose of/recycle your junk mail then you can rip the stamp carefully off the envelope, pop it into the container and once you have a large amount simply put them in an envelope and send them to a charity of your choice. At my previous place of work I set up a large envelope where people dropped in their used stamps and once the envelope was full I would send it straight to charity. It all adds up and is no trouble at all.
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Hello world!

My name is Helen and for quite some time now I have been contemplating creating a blog with a view to helping animals. Right now, I know very little about creating a blog so I am going to learn as I go along ~ please be patient!

"But how can a blog actually help animals?" 

I hear you cry.  Well, that all depends on you - here's how;

Every week I am inundated with e-mails from organisations such as the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), The League Against Cruel Sports, and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) to name but a few. They tell me what is going on in the world with respect to animals and ask me to do things like write to my MP and ask them to consider supporting the Fox Hunting Ban, or sign a petition asking the Canadian Prime Minister to consider abolishing the Seal Cull. I happily follow the link they provide, fill in my details then click on send hoping that the few minutes I have spent will actually make a difference.  The thing is, I want to do more. At the moment the only thing I can think of doing to help that doesn't involve travelling to Canada and throwing myself in front of a Seal Hunter (I have every intention of actually doing this if the Seal Cull continues) is to try and convince more people to join me in sparing a few minutes helping animals. 

I sometimes have e-mails asking me to donate to causes but unfortunately I can't afford to do this as much as I'd like to, this blog isn't for the purpose of asking you to donate either.

How do I know I make a difference? 

I don't think I make much of a difference alone, but I do think that a lot of people doing something whether it be signing a petition or writing a letter can make a big difference.  An example is something that happened recently, PETA sent out an e-mail to ask for help with stopping the construction of a proposed large-scale intensive dairy farm (battery farm for cows) in which 8,000 cows would be subjected to cruel conditions, confined to tiny stalls without access to grass or sunshine and at risk of disease.  I was asked to write to the Planning Office voicing my opposition.  PETA provided what to write and gave me all relevant links, all I needed to do was add my name and e-mail address and click send.  I happily did this and so did many, many others.  A few days later I received an e-mail from the Planning Office thanking me for my comments and informing me that the planning permission request for the intensive dairy farm has been withdrawn!  All because so many of us gave the animals a voice.  

In order to try and make this blog as interesting as possible I am also going to post lots of animal related news, pictures and stories. It would be lovely if you could keep reading and tell your friends as well, animals all over the world need our help and even the smallest thing can make a difference. I can't do this on my own and would really, really value your support.

"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated” ~ Mahatma Gandhi
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