If you see a lost pet bunny hopping around in the wild, it might not be there by accident– every year, domestic rabbits get abandoned as owners lose interest or can’t care for them. They end up wreaking havoc on gardens, getting disoriented on roads, and bringing diseases to wild rabbit populations, but luckily, the Bunanza Rabbit Ranch and Adoption Center is a safe haven for bunnies on their journey to forever homes.
Founder and President Elizabeth Olson became a self-taught bunny guru after falling in love with a starving, teenage rabbit that was left on her property.
“Baby bunnies are adorable and then they turn into hormonal monsters after a few months,” Olson says. “The solution to that is super simple: spay/neuter, and then they go back to being adorable.”
She kept finding more of these abandoned pets and slowly became a bunny beacon of knowledge for the community.
Olson’s been saving rabbits for more than seven years, the first five as a guerrilla bunny-rescuer, but in 2020 Bunanza became a federally recognized nonprofit organization and has adopted out more than 400 rabbits since. Olson is currently planning a Bunanza art auction for late October and working with several veterinarians to organize a vaccine clinic.
One kind of rabbit you won’t find at Bunanza are wild ones like eastern cottontails. Those are handled by legally sanctioned wildlife rehabilitators such as the Whatcom Humane Society. Bunanza rescues domestic rabbits, which come in a wide variety of breeds, sizes, colors, and names, and Olson knows every one! To name a few, there’s Muppet, Yam, Carlo, Speckles, Rogue, Vogue, Bean, and Black Bart (who’s very friendly despite his infamous outlaw namesake).
Most are socialized and friendly, but there are two who are especially so. “Bun-bassadors,” Stuart and Zora, often accompany Olson to events due to their enduring patience with overzealous children.
Bunanza is always accepting more help but does have a small returning group of volunteers including Olson’s right-hand gal, Brooklyn Castellani-Kelsay, a student at Western Washington University. She began volunteering for Bunanza in the summer of 2021 and is now the treasurer of Bunanza’s board of directors. As a photographer, she often poses her favorite bunny models for portraits.
“This is my favorite part – when the weather’s nice and they can come outside like this and just kind of frolic about and hop,” Castellani-Kelsay says with a bunny in her lap.
Prospective adopters aren’t required to have previous experience and begin by answering a questionnaire ensuring their household is bunny-friendly. After meeting with the adoptable rabbits, which are all spayed/neutered and vet verified as healthy, Olson decides if they’re a good match. The last step is a $60 adoption fee per bunny.
Bunanza also does fosters with a three-month commitment and will loan out all needed equipment.
“At the end of three months, buns can either come back to us, or if they have fallen madly in love, they can adopt their bunny at a discounted [adoption] fee and with a ridiculous 80% off on equipment.”
Olson encourages anyone to visit the bunnies, even to just say hi.
“We are very happy to have people come out and see buns whether they think they’re interested in adopting or not.”
Lynden, 360.224.1886, facebook.com/BunanzaRabbit