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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This was never a really big thing when I was a kid, and I suspect I'd have been happy just to get chocolate.

These days however I can't help feeling it's a bit like trying to swap Santa for a skinnier version who eats healthily and doesn't ask kids to come sit on his knee.
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