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Stuffed critters, chocolate bunnies called best gifts

Citizen Staff Writer



Giving your kids rabbits and chicks as Easter gifts is fine, as long as the rabbits are chocolate and the chicks made out of marshmallow.

That’s the message from area shelters that have seen too many Easter animals abandoned after the thrill has worn off or the animals grow.

One area feed store, which sells chickens year-round, goes as far as to make sure it has no chicks available during the Easter season.

But merchants who supply them can’t keep up with the demand for chicks and ducklings – often dyed in Easter colors.

“We sold out of all our colored chicks and ducks in about three or four days,” said George Ruiz, an employee at Arizona Feeds Country Stores, 2701 S. Sixth Ave.

He said more colored chicks were being delivered Thursday afternoon after the stock of 200 dyed chicks and 75 colored ducks figuratively flew out of the store.

“People buy them small for the kids,” Ruiz said of the chicks. “Then they grow them for their own eggs.”

If they’re not interested in the eggs, Ruiz said, people can always bring the chickens back to the store where they are resold.

As for the ducks, Ruiz said he’s heard that some are released at Reid Park

“There’s all kinds of ducks out there,” he said.

Forever Wild Animal Rehabilitation Center owner Darlene Braastad said domestic ducks don’t have a chance against their wild counterparts.

“I have a duck right now that came from Reid Park,” she said. “It has huge puncture wounds in its back, probably from somebody’s dog.

“It’s illegal to dump them off to begin with and, secondly, it’s cruel. Just because there is a big lake doesn’t mean they can survive there.”

The duck is recovering at her nonprofit rehab and sanctuary, 8605 S. Craycroft Road. She is not sure if it will survive.

“My feeling is and has always been if you take in an animal, you better adopt it for the full term of its life,” Braastad said.

She said a rabbit’s life span is about six years, while geese, chickens and ducks can live into their tweens.

“We have a lot of ducks – I even have a goose right now – that have been Easter ducks and Easter geese.”

Even if people have the facilities to care for fowl, Braastad said many neighborhood associations do not allow them because they are loud.

Keeping them can pose secondary dangers.

“If you have animals like chickens and ducks, then you have seeds, and then you have mice, and then you have snakes and then predators, like coyotes,” she said.

Rabbits, too, need more care than some people realize. The House Rabbit Society, an international organization that aims to educate, said rabbits are awful pets for little children.

“Contrary to Easter-time hype, rabbits and small children aren’t a good match,” the society’s Web site said. “The exuberance of even the gentlest toddler is stressful for the sensitive rabbit.”

The Humane Society of Southern Arizona is hit with an influx of rabbits a month or two after Easter every year, said Pat Hubbard, director of shelter operations.

“Bunnies need lifelong care, including proper socialization, food, water, exercise and regular veterinary care,” said Humane Society spokeswoman Sheena Stewart.

Braastad said rabbits should be spayed or neutered, which helps their personalities, but can be a costly operation.

“We strongly believe it is better to give little ones a chocolate bunny or stuffed animal for Easter,” Stewart said.

Real bunnies, chicks, ducks don’t make good Easter gifts, animal advocates say

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