17

Happy Easter Billy Bilby!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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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14

April the Giraffe: Motherhood Suits Her

You might remember us introducing you to April, the pregnant giraffe, back in March. We asked several animals for advice on motherhood and the media. Since then, April has had her baby, and is thriving as a mother. Below is what she had to say when we caught up with her.

Tell us about your son.

His name is Tajiri, which means means hope and confidence in Swahili. My favorite keepers, Allysa and Corey, picked it out. I guess it fits him. He is full of energy and loves to entertain the humans who come to see us.

Has some of the craziness stopped now that you have given birth?

Oh my goodness, no it has been a zoo around here. Oh I made a joke…any way, the humans who watched my butt for 2 months are traveling here to the park to see us. It has been a good thing for my Jordan. He loves us animals so much. This has allowed him to do things he never dreamed of being able to do.

Are you still streaming video and all?

Where can people find it? Yes we are live every day from 4 pm to 8 pm. Our public missed us so much we put the live feed back up. Jordan also goes live to teach about the other animals he has here. The link can be found on the Animal Adventure Park website and Facebook page.

Your baby looked so big when he was born (compared to kittens), how big was he?

He was 5 ft 9 in and weighed almost 150 lbs. He is now 4 months old and is 8 ft tall and weighs 300 lbs. He is a fast growing boy.

What do baby giraffes eat? Does he get treats from the humans? 

Giraffe calves nurse from their moms, but they also sample the hay and feed that the adults eat. Tajiri is starting to take carrots from the humans who come to visit. They make such a fuss over him.

How does he get along with the vet and other humans he sees regularly?

He is learning the right way to behave around humans. He does sometimes act out though, and Allysa has had to scoot out of the way. She is so patient and loves us. She works with Tajiri daily, teaching him to move where she wants him to go and to tolerate human touch.

What types of things do giraffe moms teach their children?

Since we are in the care of humans our job is made easy. We do most things by instinct though. Humans say we have a VERY short attention span so we are always learning and exploring our habitat. Food is our biggest motivation….we love romaine lettuce and carrots.

Do you like showing him off to the humans?

I don’t mind sharing the limelight with him. I trust my humans so I let them in with us right away. He is famous now so Oliver, his Daddy, and I accept that he will get as much attention as we do. He is just so darned cute.

Would you like to have another baby?

I wouldn’t mind having more babies. I’m only 14 and in the care of my humans I could live til my mid 20s or more. Jordan said I had an easy time and am a good mom, so maybe there will be more….stay tuned…it will probably be Giraffe watch 2020…

Is there anything you would like to add?

I guess I don’t understand all the excitement I caused, but I am very glad it has done so much for the Park. All of the attention it has brought to the conservation of Giraffes has been great too.