As ice cream flavors become more and more elaborate, with chunks of various
things mixed in, surveys show good old vanilla remains the most popular flavor.
Unfortunately this is not true for the plain vanillas of the domestic rabbit
world: the New Zealand Whites. Nearly everyone who calls our adoption line with
a specific type in mind wants a dwarf or a Holland Lop, and most people donít
even want to meet the big white rabbits with the red eyes. Shelters who help out
overcrowded affiliates by taking transfers sometimes ask them specifically not to
send the whites because they are unlikely to be adopted. We sometimes pair them
with a more colorful companion to increase their chances of finding a home, but
they often wait a very long time. Lightning has been at the MSPCA Boston for six months.
New Zealand rabbits were selectively bred to have a high incidence of albinism
to create a standardized white coat for testing dyes and cosmetics. Albinism is
a relatively rare genetic defect found in most species of animals--including humans,
including me--which limits production of the melanin which gives color in the hair/fur,
skin and eyes. This results in poor vision and sensitivity to light, but otherwise
there are no health problems. However, all unwanted rabbits are at risk, and the New
Zealand Whites have an even tougher time than most finding good adoptive homes. So
here I go to sing their praises and help them along a little.
I believe all true rabbit lovers must also love the New Zealand Whites, the Alice
in Wonderland rabbits. Their snowy coats (well, sometimes they get smudged a little!)
provide no distraction from our appreciation of their shapes and features. They have
not been bred to look like stuffed toys, but have classic rabbit features:
pear-shaped bodies, chunky back feet, feminine little dewlaps, noses with "character"
and those sweet round cheeks. Some have slender faces and feet, but most are pretty
hefty and muscularóplenty of bunny to love. The shorter fur on their ears allows
delicate seashell colors of pink or lavender to show through. Finally, their
gentle eyes have a range of shades from clear pale pink to ruby red. Even if this feature
is not particularly appealing to you, remember that very little of your enjoyment
of your pet rabbit depends on gazing intently into his eyes anyway! You may find
yourself coming to appreciate their tenderness or just learning to ignore them.