Every year we are reminded that, as cute as they are, bunnies don’t make good Easter gifts. But those reminders often go unheeded.
Lejla Hadzimuratovic is trying to save our Easter icon one bunny at a time -- or, 150 at a time.
That’s how many bunnies Hadzimuratovic had in her Silverlake condo when she first started the Bunny World Foundation five years ago.
Then her homeowners association found out. Now she only has two adult bunnies.
The babies are all taken care of by foster care parents, including five little ones she shows us, each no bigger than your hand. The LAPD confiscated them last weekend.
“They were supposed to stay with their mom until they were eight weeks old,” explains Hadzimuratovic. “What illegal vendors do is take them away from their moms and people buy them, and then they die within days.”
Easter is Hadzimuratovic’s least favorite holiday.
She was an actor, a producer, and a translator before taking up her current non-paid occupation: bunny rescuer.
“I put pretty much put three careers on hold for this madness,” says Hadzimuratovic.
The Bunny World Foundation tries to educate the public not to buy fragile newborn bunnies, which are mostly sold in downtown L.A.'s fashion district.
Its outreach efforts still have a long way to go. That’s why the foundation has set-up a foster care system to take care of rescued bunnies that must be fed milk through a syringe and kept in an 80-degree room.
“It’s almost an incubator, because they are supposed to be with mom, but there is no mom so we take a role as a mother and make sure they make it,” says Hadzimuratovic.
If you want to be a bunny foster care parent, good luck getting accepted.
You’d have better odds making it into some Ivy League colleges than getting through the foundation’s meticulous screening, which includes home visits.
“We usually reject nine out of ten people," says Hadzimuratovic. “Because people don’t want to invest in getting a playpen or getting the right set-up. And if you don’t have the right set-up for the bunnies you are going to get rid of them, because they don’t poop jellybeans.”
The Bunny World Foundation now has about 150 foster care parents, from San Diego to Santa Barbara.
Some of them came to the program after unwittingly buying illegal baby bunnies that died within days.
Now they want to help.