View from the Zoo: Wide-eyed arrivals settle in at Flamingo Land
First came Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny, and now two new rabbits have come to live at Flamingo Land zoo.
Bramble and Bracken, two female French Lop rabbits have moved into the children’s farm area with resident buck, James.
It seems they have settled in well and already have put James in his place.
Rabbits are thought to have first arrived in Britain following the Roman invasion of 43 AD when Roman legions brought bunnies from Spain as a source of food and fur.
But it wasn’t until the Middle Ages when the Normans kept rabbits on a much larger scale that many escaped from their man-made warrens and established a wild population.
With their legendary fast breeding rate and a bounty of food finding fields full of crops, they soon became a familiar sight in the British countryside.
But now, a new threat is looming over this iconic animal.
In recent years, two-thirds of the British rabbit population has been wiped out by the deadly Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease, and numbers are continuing to fall.
This is not only killing rabbits, but it is also having a knock on effect on many other species that have come to rely upon these industrious diggers.
Beetles, Digger Wasps and basking lizards are among the creatures that take advantage of their earth disturbance while badgers and birds of prey rely upon them for food.
Keepers at Flamingo Land are warning pet owners to be diligent and ensure that their pet rabbits are up to date with their vaccinations while conservationists are keeping a close eye on the wild population.
If rabbit numbers continue to decline, the British countryside could soon look like a very different place and this big eared, twitchy nosed trickster could become just a colourful character on the pages of a Beatrix Potter story book.