Students at the Community Building Children’s Center arrived at their downtown preschool Monday morning to discover that their pet rabbit Sugar Bunny had been taken over the weekend. Teachers found anti-circus fliers in his hutch.
“Somebody stoled him,” said 5-year-old Zion. “I’m sad.”
The Community Building on Main Avenue between Division and Browne streets hosted an open house on Friday evening and Saturday to celebrate the completion of renovations on its neighboring expansion at the Saranac Building.
Teacher Lori Peters guesses that Sugar Bunny was taken Saturday evening. Another teacher saw the 8-year-old rabbit in his hutch about 5:30 p.m. Saturday, but he was gone an hour later.
The half-dozen fliers left behind advertised protests against the Ringling Brothers Circus, which was in town Sept. 20-23. The fliers showed a picture of a forlorn-looking bear trying to escape underneath the bars of its cage. Animal rights groups PETA and the Northwest Animal Rights Network were listed at the bottom.
A PETA spokeswoman said the group would not endorse stealing a pet bunny.
“Just like dogs and cats, (rabbits) have been domesticated, so we encourage people who have the knowledge and ability to adopt rabbits from their local shelters,” said Daphna Nachminovitch, a spokeswoman for PETA.
Teachers gathered the children in a circle at the beginning of the day so they could remember Sugar Bunny. Some drew pictures. Others wrote songs.
“We had a little rabbit. His name was Sugar Bunny. Sometimes we took him out and he ran around and sometimes he rested outside. Where did Sugar Bunny go? Will they give him back? What did they do with him?” were the words to a song that student Braden composed.
“We talked about how some people have different ideas about animals. Some people don’t think they should be in cages,” said Peters.
Some worried that the person who took Sugar Bunny might have hurt him.
The children talked later in the day about how Sugar Bunny liked to eat “pinkies” – not fingers, but rather small pink treats – and carrots.
“Sometimes he’d get some fresh air. Sometimes we brushed him,” said 4-year-old Ryan.
“I just pet him and hugged him,” said Christian.
Sugar Bunny helped many of the children get over their separation anxiety when they were dropped off at school, said Peters.
She plans to report his theft to the police, but is uncertain whether the school will find a new pet for the children.