You are currently viewing Paeroa rabbit show sure to breed delight
Paeroa’s “bunny mum” Donna Handley is hopping with excitement for the Rabbit Council’s North Island nationals. Photo: ALICE PARMINTER

Paeroa rabbit show sure to breed delight

This King’s Birthday weekend, expect a hopping good time at Paeroa’s War Memorial Hall.

It will be the epicentre of cute, as furry lagomorphs of all shapes and sizes vie for the title of Best in Show.

All are welcome to join in with the pet show, Hauraki-Piako Rabbit Club vice president Donna Handley said.

“If anyone’s got a pet rabbit they can bring it along and enter on the day,” the Paeroa rabbit breeder said.

“We have a fancy dress section where we have a heap of fun. You’ve got your cutest pet, best bred pet, best purebred pet, cheekiest pet…”

As well as the club’s pet show, spectators will be able to see the more formal Rabbit Council’s North Island nationals.

“Club show’s different. You put them in because you want to get feedback on what they’re like, what their coat’s like, what their body type’s like and everything else,” Donna said.

“But nationals – nationals you put your best in.”

Donna’s rabbits are no strangers to the nationals.

“I did the North Island nationals 2013, I won it with a rex [breed]. I actually won it,” she said.

“It was a big shock, I’d only been in rabbits for three years.”

These days, the enthusiastic breeder has 17 rabbits in her menagerie.

“At one stage I had 40 rabbits out in the backyard,” she said.

“I look back and it’s like, ‘what was I thinking?’”

Each ball of fluff has their own personality, and Donna knows them inside out. In quick succession, she rattles off a list of names and traits.

“Torvi’s my orange rex. You’re not supposed to have favourites, you’re not supposed to. But Torvi’s probably one of them. Fizz has won best rex, she’s just a sweetheart. But Fizz is getting a bit grumpy now because she’s at that age where she wants a buck. And she can’t have a buck until after the nationals.

“They’ve all got different personalities. Like my boy Jack, he was just the biggest snuggly bum. Jack was my foundation buck, his bloodlines are in every single blue-eyed white I own.”

They’re more like loved family members than pets. As each is lifted from their cage, she pulls them in close for snuggles and coos of admiration.

“People don’t realise that rabbits actually do make good friends,” she said.

“You do get some that have an attitude, and those ones you don’t breed from because that attitude will come through in the next litter.”

Currently, Donna has five breeds.

“I’ve got jersey wooly, mini cashmere, mini lop, netherland dwarf, and standard rex,” Donna said.

“It’s been a learning curve with these guys.”

And that’s where the shows come in. Donna has a few rabbits entered in the nationals this year.

“Gilligan is my pick for doing Best in Show,” she said.

“He’s a perfect jersey wooly in my books.”

Most of her others will also hop along to the hall, to be judged in the club show.

“I like to hear the [judges’] comments so I know where I can improve,” she said. “And I think all of us are like that.”

“We just want people to come in and see what we do, you know, because rabbits are fun.

“Pretty much everybody in town knows me as bunny mum – the crazy bunny lady. But to me they give you a lot of joy.”

Hauraki-Piako Rabbit Club Show, June 3, 10am-3.30pm at the Paeroa War Memorial Hall. Gold coin donation; enter a rabbit in the pet show for $1 per bunny plus 50c per extra class. Contact Donna on 021 231 2946 or visit Hauraki-Piako Rabbit Club on Facebook for more information.

By ALICE PARMINTER, Public Interest Journalism funded by NZ on Air