Erie Space Rabbit Society and Rescue volunteers share care, training

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Jim and Eileen Zipp spend the higher a part of their week surrounded by doe eyes, bushy tails and twitching noses.

However as volunteers on the Erie Space Rabbit Society & Rescue, or E.A.R.S., the Erie couple would not simply feed rabbits carrots and take them out for play occasions all day.

Jim, 64, and Eileen, 59, look after practically 100 rabbits which can be housed at E.A.R.S., or the Bunny Bungalow, 2316 W. thirty eighth St. in Erie. E.A.R.S. is a registered nonprofit devoted to educating folks on the welfare of rabbits.

In the summertime of 2021, E.A.R.S. volunteers rescued 74 deserted rabbits in North East, which led to an overflow of home bunnies on the shelter.

“Sadly a home rabbit is the chew toy of the world, there’s nothing that doesn’t go after them,” Eileen Zipp stated. “They don’t have any wild self-defense expertise to guard themselves, so folks must study to cease throwing rabbits out.”

As extra rabbits started to occupy the Bunny Bungalow, Jim and Eileen Zipp devoted extra of their time to E.A.R.S.

“We’ve been right here about 4 years,” Eileen Zipp stated. “We began simply coming in in the future, then three and now we’re as much as 4. We adore it. The rabbits have turn into our second household.”

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Routine rabbit care

4 days every week, the Zipps spend as much as six hours volunteering at E.A.R.S. April 6 was a type of 6-hour days.

The very first thing Eileen Zipp did when she arrived at 8 a.m. was feed each rabbit an eighth of a cup of pellets, which include important vitamins for a rabbit’s weight-reduction plan. As soon as each bunny was fed, she started the laundry.

“We have now many aged and sick bunnies, so we have to put down blankets for them,” Eileen Zipp stated. “Quite a lot of the outdated ones love blankets, which results in lots of laundry.”

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As quickly as the primary load of many was in, Eileen Zipp began cleansing cages. In the primary constructing, which is one in every of three, bunny cages line each partitions two excessive, whereas one other row of cages sits within the center.

Eileen Zipp strapped on knee guards as she ready to scrub the underside cages.

Eileen Zipp, 59, brushes Ziva, a black Otter Rex rabbit, at Erie Area Rabbit Society and Rescue in Millcreek Township on April 6. Zipp regularly volunteers with her husband Jim to help clean and care for the rabbits.

“We take all the pieces out other than the rabbit and put down contemporary newspaper,” she stated. “Then we clear out their litter pan, put down paper first, then the hay, get the rabbits contemporary water after which slowly put all the pieces again in.”

Eileen and Jim Zipp spend nearly all of their shift cleansing out the 54 cages in the primary constructing alongside different volunteers.

As soon as each cage was cleaned, each bunny was fed and bins of newspaper and hay had been restocked, Jim and Eileen Zipp started their further work for the day.

“Quite a lot of occasions we’ll keep till 2 p.m. simply to brush them,” Eileen Zipp stated. “We wish our bunnies wholesome, so the extra I’m right here the extra I study, and the extra I study the happier I’m.”

The couple labored in tandem to finish a radical bunny inspection of every rabbit. They began with Ziva, a black otter rex.

Eileen Zipp combed by Ziva’s velvety fur, amassing clumps to the comb. As soon as Ziva was brushed, Jim Zipp turned the rabbit towards him to verify her eyes and ears whereas Eileen Zipp gently squeezed the rabbit’s torso and felt round for lumps.

Subsequent, Jim Zipp picked Ziva up so his spouse might go in with a cotton swab and clear out the rabbit’s anal glands, which must be cleaned bi-weekly. Final however not least, Eileen Zipp clipped Ziva’s toenails.

Eileen and Jim Zipp rewarded Ziva with a small chunk of apple and moved on to the subsequent rabbit.

Offering ‘ear’resistable training

Through the years, the Zipps have created loving relationships with each rabbit they’ve cared for at E.A.R.S.

“I’ve lots of ones I favor, too many truthfully,” Eileen Zipp stated.

As for Jim Zipp, there’s various bunnies that recognize him for extra than simply scratches behind the ears.

“I’ve a pair that like me so far as the way in which I style, however for essentially the most half I like all of them,” he stated.

Eileen Zipp, 59, holds a rabbit at Erie Area Rabbit Society and Rescue in Millcreek Township on April 6. Zipp regularly volunteers with her husband Jim to help clean and care for the rabbits.

The Zipps additionally spend lots of their time surrounded by different volunteers who’ve helped educate them on all the pieces there may be to find out about rabbit care.

“Within the 4 years I’ve been right here I’ve discovered a lot,” Eileen Zipp stated. “These are such nice folks and so they’re such nice lecturers. I’ve numerous new associates simply from being right here.”

An enormous a part of the E.A.R.S. mission is educating folks about correct rabbit care, particularly round Easter.

“Most individuals know higher, however some go to breeders or the pet retailer as a result of who can resist a child bunny? They’re lovable,” stated Linda Jones, co-owner of E.A.R.S. “However that little bunny is totally grown in three months, and so they don’t anticipate that. They don’t just like the mess and so they don’t have time and the youngsters have misplaced curiosity.”

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Jones and the opposite volunteers inform potential adopters {that a} rabbit is not only a pet, however turns into a part of the household and desires correct care if it may reside a full lifespan of 10 to 12 years.

By means of the group’s academic efforts, Jones would not see a spike in Easter adoptions at E.A.R.S.

“The people who find themselves adopting proper now, they had been right here weeks in the past and so they’re studying,” she stated. “But when somebody is available in and says they need a bunny for his or her children for Easter, it is a exhausting no.”

The Zipps have turn into pure educators themselves, instructing potential adopters how they’ve cared for the bunnies to make sure an extended life after they’re gone.

“They want consideration, somebody to look after them and now and again I see names on the (adoption) listing like, ‘Oh, this one’s gone, that one’s gone, that’s nice,’ and I adore it,” Jim Zipp stated.

Baylee DeMuth might be reached at 814-450-3425 orbdemuth@timesnews.com. Comply with her on Twitter @BayleeDeMuth.

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