Rabbit Advocacy Animal Matters
The Rabbits of Kilby
The Kilby Historic Site is situated at Harrison Mills in the Fraser Valley and among the attractions are some farm animals and rabbits. We were alerted to the "horrible" conditions of the rabbits in late August of 2007 and on September 2nd went to see for ourselves. When we got there we saw a number of tiny hutches with rabbits crammed inside with barely any room to move about. Most were New Zealand's, big white rabbits, which are often used in meat production. There were a number of babies as well, a clear indication that adult rabbits hadn't been sterilized. Most of the rabbits had urine-stained fur, as well.
We spoke to a staff member about our concerns, and were told, among other things, that the situation was out of control and that they'd probably have to bring some of the rabbits to auction.
Numerous attempts were made to contact the Kilby staff, including both the facilities and business managers, as well as to the Fraser Heritage Society, which operates the site. Offers of financial aid included that of habitat improvement, spay/neuter, and other services, along with assistance of moving some of the rabbits to our sanctuary. Not one response to date.
We also contacted the District of Kent Municipal Hall with our concerns, and with follow-up correspondence initiated on our part, have now been advised that as of September 26th most of the 20+ rabbits "have been removed or taken away from Kilby." Only about 8 rabbits remain.
What is most frustrating is that the business manager of Kilby, Mel Jorgensen, is also a District Councillor and nothing has been heard from him.
Nobody knows or is saying what has happened to the rabbits, although it's most likely that they've come to an untimely end. All offers of help from not only us but from members of the public and T.L. Roberge Trucking Ltd. were ignored. We are very disappointed in this, and in general how the whole matter has been handled.
On our September 30th visit to Kilby we noticed that the tiny hutches on the floor of the stable had been removed and also that one of the hutches that had been attached to the back of a building was gone. One tiny hutch remained with a solitary New Zealand rabbit inside. Two lawn pens were still occupied.
As society is maturing we are recognizing the value of all sentient creatures with whom we share this Earth and as one little girl visiting the site commented, it's "mean" how the rabbits are being kept. It’s also not in keeping with 21st century change that the local Agassiz 4H Club is annually stocking the farm with baby animals and their mothers.
The pictures tell the story.
Our return visit. You be the judge.
March 2/08 Although Kilby Farm has not opened for the season we drove out to see if there were any changes since last fall. It appears that the same adult rabbits are still kept in the enclosures on the lawn. There is no new housing for them.
On Sunday, March 23rd we drove to Kilby. Due to the inclement weather and early Easter date, there was very little activity. Some baby goats had been expected, but likely weren't going to arrive. There were no baby rabbits, just the "lifers".
Note: We were told that it's been the general practice of 4-H to bring the baby rabbits to Fraser Valley Auctions after they've grown up. What an irresponsible and disturbing message this sends to the kids. The lives of rabbits and all animals matter!
September 2009 On a recent outing to Kilby Historic Site we once again observed that rabbits had been bred by the 4-H for petting farm. This is appalling and teaches children nothing of compassion, commitment, humanity or responsibility to their animal friends. The message these kids are being sent is that it's okay to exploit and use animals as resources. Several youngsters were inside the pen, picking up the rabbits or sitting down "playing" with them. Once they became bored the adult in charge brought them into the gift shop.
With all the news lately about an E.coli outbreak at this year's PNE that resulted in eleven children and two adults becoming sick, and four petting farms closed in England for the same reason, it's interesting to note that there was no supervision or instruction to the visitors of Kilby to wash their hands.
We have written the District of Kent, Kilby, and 4-H BC with our concerns. The end of the tourist season is near and now that the usefulness of the rabbits is over, they are probably doomed to slaughter.
October 15, 2009
Communication from the Mayor, District of Kent, indicated that the rabbits are being kept in more suitable housing and that at the conclusion of the Museum season, they will be returned to the “owners.” New signage has been placed at the wash station requesting that visitors wash their hands after handling the rabbits and other livestock.
It was further added that it is not the purpose of the Museum to exploit rabbits but rather to provide an accurate replication of the practices of small farms in the 1920’s and 30’s. Rabbits and livestock like swine, poultry, cows, sheep, and horses were part of farming operations at that time.