17

Happy Easter Billy Bilby!

Image result for easter bilby

We’d like to introduce you to a special animal, the Easter Bilby. He’s a celebrity in Australia although he may be less known by some of you. The Easter Bilby is busy this time of year, so we’re going to talk to a close friend.

Billy Bilby, welcome to Cheeseland. Thank you for taking the time to introduce us to the Easter Bilby.

No worries, I’m happy to be here and spread the word about the Easter Bilby. After all, we bilbies are having a problem with our population declining and want people to be aware that we even exist.

Image result for bilby

On that note, can you tell us a little bit about bilbies?

We’re small, furry marsupials who live in the desert. Our bodies are about 55 cm/22 inches long and our tails about 29 cm/11.5 inches. We weigh about 2.5 kg/5.5 pounds. We have long noses (excellent sense of smell) and large ears (excellent sense of hearing and help keep us cool). The ladies are about half the size of the gents.

We have extremely soft fur that is mainly blue-grey with white tummies. Bilbies live in fancy burrows. We only come out and night and will eat anything.

Two fun facts about bilbies?

The word bilby is from the Aboriginal Yuwaalaraay language. (I wouldn’t try to pronounce it unless you belong to the group.)

We don’t drink water. We get all we need from what we eat.  (Like koalas)

So how did the Easter Bilby replace the Easter Rabbit in Australia?

Unfortunately, rabbits are not very popular in Australia. They were brought in by the Brits in the 19th century and reproduced until they had taken over the country. Rabbits drove some of the native animals and plants to extinction.

In the 1990’s, the humans decided that the rabbit had to go as the symbol of Easter. They wanted something native to replace it. Since we look something like a rabbit (ears only), we got the job. We’ve been around Australia for a very long time.

Image result for no rabbits allowed sign

And the tradition has stuck.

Yes, but we’ve lost the association with the anti-rabbit people. Now it’s more of a survival issue. You see, we’re endangered in some parts of Australia and vulnerable in others.

That’s awful. What happened?

The usual: loss of habitat, hunting. I am actually a Greater Bilby. There used to be Lesser Bilbies, but they died out about 70 years ago. (Unless the humans lost them.)

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Is the Easter Bilby tradition working?

It seems to be. There is much greater awareness of who we are and why we are important residents of Australia. In fact, The Commonwealth of Australian Endangered Species Program has chosen us as a mascot, so we’re becoming famous.

They have even started to introduce populations of us into places that haven’t seen bilbies in a very long time. Did you know that we once populated 70% of Australia? And that’s a big place!

Image result for bilbies

What does the Easter Bilby do?

Pretty much what the Easter Bunny does. Except he delivers chocolate bilbies instead of chocolate rabbits. And he runs rather than hops.

Do you think the idea of the Easter Bilby will spread?

Probably not. The rabbits pretty much have a lock on the market. But that’s OK. We only live in Australia and want to continue living here for a very long time. We have no plans to invade Britain.

Thank you so much for sharing your story with us.

I’m happy to share.

Image result for easter bilbies

Trivia – In March 1968, 9-year-old Rose-Marie Dusting wrote “Billy the Aussie Easter Bilby.” She published it 11 years later.

Sales Pitch: Chocolate bilbies are produced by Pink Lady and Haigh’s Chocolates. (Cadbury pulled out of the market shortly before Easter.) The companies give a percentage of sales to conservation efforts. Pink Lady parent company, Fyna Foods manufactures chocolate bilbies as part of the Australian Bush Friends Easter chocolates. A percentage of the Bush Friends sales is also donated to the Save the Bilby Fund.

 

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17

Cat Forum: Interview with the Cats from Down Under

(Orion)

Greetings. Snoops and Kommando Kitty here. We have a pawsome interview for you today with the cats from Autistsix, It’s a great blog, except the cats don’t get nearly enough space. It’s about a family who live in Australia,which is apparently Down Under something. (The editors said to include it.) The lady who writes it says the whole family is a little unique because of something called Autism Spectrum Disorder. We don’t really know what she’s talking about; as far as we can tell, they aren’t any stranger than a lot of the other humans we know.

(Pixie)

Would you please introduce yourselves?

Orion – I am Orion Prince of Burmese Tigers, I am also a star.

Smokie – I’m Smokie, pleased to meet you.  I am a puppy cat.

Pixie – I am Pixie, I am confused, oh wait that’s not what I mean, I am a Princess.

Echo – Hello, a pleasure to meet you both.  My name is Echo and I am a cat.

(Smokie)

 It seems a little hectic around there sometimes. How do you keep your cat Zen?

Orion – I run round and round the house until I am sleepy then I find someone to cuddle me.

Smokie – I just live and let live until something becomes intolerable, then I bop it on the head and nap.

Pixie – On a leather band around my neck, whoops, that’s my tag.  I don’t know where I put my Zen.  Do you think Echo stole it?

Echo – I avoid the others.

(Echo)

Do you hang together or are you hissy sometimes?

Orion – I love everybody.  Echo seems grumpy sometimes when I helps her diet or wake up and Cherry Bopple gets grumpy sometimes but I don’t know why.  Rabbits knock you over if you play rough and rats can bite if you poke them, so don’t do that.

Smokie – Unfortunately in my role as ruler of the cats I occasionally have to discipline the others.  Pixie keeps being a girl cat, Echo is evil and the kitten can get a bit too big for his boots sometimes.  But really it is only Echo that I get really mad at.

Pixie – My stupid brother Smoke thinks he’s my boss.  But he is better than that evil Echo.  When I was younger she was mean to me so now I just smack her in case.

Echo – I live with the stupidest cats that ever lived and yet they expect me not to hit them.  I simply don’t understand.

(Cherise)

How many creatures do you live with (furry and not)? Do you get along with everyone?

Orion – We have humans, and dogs, and rabbits, and rats, and fishies and birds.  My bestest mate is Cushion the dog.

Echo – Charles you little ignoramus.

Orion – Where’s the amus?

       (Echo rolled her eyes.)

Echo – There are only 5 people in this house that I do not loathe; Mum, Dad, Cat and Tabby (both humans) and the dog Charles.  All the others are uncouth ruffians who don’t know how to treat a lady and don’t have a sense of humour.

Smokie – My best friend is Cherise AKA Cherry Bopple Berry we have hanged together since I first arrived.  Charlie is a great cushion.  Grandma’s dogs worship the ground I walk on which is great but they also love Orion which kinda takes the sheen off their adoration but they are great guys.  The rabbits are cool, the rats are great fun, I play with them and they feed and groom me,  I let them keep my shed fur to sleep in, I love those guys.  I like watching the birds and they sing to me, but they get a bit flappy if I try to touch them so I don’t.  I like to watch the fish but my best wet friend is the axylotyl, he and I touch through the glass.

Orion – Yeah I’m the same; I love all the other guys here although I play with the rabbits and watch the rats, the reverse of Smokie and the different best friend dog. Oh and the birds love me, I climb up on their cage and play with’em and then a hooman comes and takes me away but my birdie buds cry and squwark until I am allowed to go back, ‘cept at night, sleepin’ birds have no sense of humour, like sleepin’ Echo.

Pixie – Rabbits smell funny.  Rats feed me and groom me I love them.  Birds flap, fish are wet, and dogs are rough.  I do like the spaniel Snuggie though, he is soft and gently affectionate, I like him more than the other cats.

Orion – ‘Cept me!

Pixie – Except you, Sweetie.

Echo – Moron, the spaniel, WHOSE NAME IS CHARLES, is a dog.

Pixie – I don’t think so!

Smokie – No Sis, he’s a dog.  He’s just not a terrierist!

Pixie – Oh, I don’t hate dogs, I hate terrierists.

Do you have a favorite human?

Orion – Mumsy and then all of ‘em.

Smokie – Tabby slightly pips Dad.

Echo – Dad and Mum then human Cat.

Pixie – Mum, then Tabby and Cat.

Do you think you get enough cuddle time?

Orion – Hoomans are difficult; they want cuddle when I want run and they are doin’ stupid stuff when I want cuddle, but Mummy usually stops when I ask.

Smokie – No, I want cuddles much more.

Pixie – I want cuddles when I want them, and I almost always get them.  The secret is, scratch people until they cuddle you.

Echo – I never get enough cuddles.

Australia sounds kind of scary with big spiders and other things. Do you go outside?

Orion – Spiders are fun and yummy but they make Mummy scream and snatch me up.

Smokie – Spiders are dangerous so a nice man comes around and sprays around the house so we hardly ever see them.  He cuddled me and called me handsome last time.

Echo – The new house has no spiders, I miss them they were fun and tasty.

Pixie – Which ones are the spiders again.

Orion – I am not allowed out because Burmese are too clever to avoid danger or cars, plus I am so beautiful and friendly that I will get stolen.

Pixie – I have enough trouble finding my way around inside.

Smokie – We aren’t allowed outside there are cars and stuffs that eat cats.

Echo – We aren’t allowed outside because apparently the sun can kill us.  Another cat fell asleep in the sunshine outside and when Mum and Dad found her she needed them to put water down her throat and she almost dies.  And there are these things that look like rope ties but they bite and poison you call snakes.  They are so irresistibly wiggly that they have killed lots of outside cats.

Smokie – How do you know all this stuff?

Echo – One, I’m not stupid!

(Smokie bopped Echo.)

 Smokie – Really, yet you didn’t see that coming.

Echo –   Two, I’m older.

Pixie – Echo is really, really old.  I mean ancient, older than… you know old stuff.

Echo – Yes, thank you Princess Pointless!

Pixie – Smokie!

(Smokie bopped Echo again!)

 Echo – Finally, I actually listen!

Smokie – So you know because you are old!

Where’s your favorite place to nap/hang out?

Smokie – It is duty to sleep everywhere so that all recognize my dominion.

Pixie – I like bookcases in high traffic areas so I can get cuddles.  I sometimes get confused, but apparently I am not a book.

Orion – I mainly sleeps in doggie beds near Mummy or if she’s out Grandma, but I also love beds and my cat tree (top spot) next to Smokie, on Cushion the spaniel, and places that annoy Echo.

Echo – Couches in one of the two front rooms.

Do you have favorite snacks? Do the humans share their food?

Orion – Steak or prawn pieces from Mummy’s plate, Mummy is a great sharer, the others make me steal.

Pixie – Mummy plate fish.  There are quite a few Mummy plate foods I like.

Smokie – Chicken flavoured noodles.  Mum shares but if I want a lot of noodles I have to steal and run.

Echo – Fancy Feast Party Treats.  People food is for dogs, or morons.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

Echo – I am not volatile, I just have high standards.  Oh and I like scratching things at random as a joke, because I have a sense of humour.

Smokie – Peace out, guys.

Pixie – Add to what?

Orion – Make sure you spell me name right; O… ask Mummy!