World’s Strangest

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Easter Bilby

Happy Easter, Neatoramanauts – but instead of Easter Bunny, how about
if you celebrate with the chocolate Easter Bilby instead?

Bilbies,
the Australian marsupials have the prerequisite large ears and are no
slouch in the cute department. They were almost wiped out when European
settlers introduced rabbits to the arid Australian grasslands some 200
years ago. Those aggressive rabbits pushed the bilbies out of their burrows,
and they got preyed upon by foxes and feral cats. At one point, there
were only about 600 bilbies left in the wild.

Recently, the bilbies are making a comeback by invading the rabbit’s
turf as the symbol of Easter. Ah, the irony:

In 1968, a 9-year-old girl in Queensland, Rose-Marie Dusting, wrote
a story, "Billy The Aussie Easter Bilby," which she published
as a book 11 years later. The story helped catalyze the public’s interest
in saving the bilby, and by 1991, the Foundation for Rabbit-Free Australia
began their Easter
Bilby campaign
to replace the Easter bunny with true native wildlife.

"It seemed ludicrous to be promoting an introduced rabbit
in a positive way as the ‘Easter bunny,’" says Paton.

Soon chocolate makers caught on and began selling chocolate bilbies.
Haigh’s
Chocolates
and Darrell
Lea
continue to earmark proceeds to the candy’s real-life counterparts.

Funds from chocolate sales have gone to anti-rabbit campaigns,
as well as to projects
that fence in thousands of acres of land to keep them free of cats and
foxes, so that bilbies can be re-introduced. The money "goes a
long way to helping pay for the construction of predator-proof fencing,
captive breeding and labor-intensive monitoring," says Emily
Miller
, a biologist at the University of Sydney.

Sarah Zielinski of NPR’s The Salt food blog has the story: Link


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