March 29, 2007

The Easter Bilby of Australia

It turns out I'm not pregnant after all. What a relief.

Easter Bilby's, anyone?

If you're anything like me, you've probably already bought and consumed most of the candy that is supposed to fill your Easter baskets this year. And why not? A gooey-eyed pastel bunny will come around and fill them up again on Easter morning anyway. Tis the season to indulge in all kinds of disgustingly delicious bunny treats like Peeps, Cadbury eggs and black liquorice jelly beans. What's not to love about the Bunny? Leave it to those hateful Australians to find something.

The Australians take vilification of fluffy animals to the next level. Rabbits have caused the extinction of about an eighth of the mammals in Australia due to overpopulation. It's widely believed that the problem began in 1859 when a English hunter moved to Australia, decided the continent wasn't violent enough and had 24 rabbits brought over to shoot. Apparently he had terrible aim. Within ten years this small yet amorous population had multiplied to the point that over two million could be killed annually without putting a dent in the new rabbit population. With all this loving going on, you'd think some of it would rub off on the Australians. You'd be wrong.

Aussies have tried poisoning, fences, trapping, shooting, fertility control and releasing "rabbit-borne" illnesses to put a stop to the Easter Bunny. So where does that leave the holiday? In the pooper. Enter the bilby to save the day.

The Bilby is a sweet, shrew-faced marsupial. The only thing separating it from a rat is that it has a pouch which, to Australians, elevates it to sainthood. The Anti-Rabbit Research Foundation of Australia thought up the "Easter Bilby" in 1991 to publicize the damage done to Australian wildlife by rabbits and to raise cash to save the endangered bilby population. The campaign appears to be a roaring success. Aussies can now celebrate Easter by consuming chocolate bilby's while grilling up Bugs Bunny on the old barBie. Sounds like fun, eh mate?

The spirit of the whole revolution can be summed up in this song by John Williamson called "The Easter Bilby":

Did you know that Bilbys used to be everywhere
Now there’s just a few in Queensland do we really care?
Big long ears, she’s no bunny
Like a kangaroo
She can carry chocolate in her pouch
But Grandpa won’t believe me
He’s too busy snoring
As she tippy-toes around the couch


Oh we all love the Easter Bilby
Pointy little snout
Close your eyes I’m sure she will be
Sneaking all about (with her)
Yum, yum, yum, yum chocolate Bilbys
Big long chocolate nose

It’s Easter so I’m sure she will be
Round on tippy-toes
But did you know cats and foxes
Eat our little friend
They’re nasty and they chase her all about
But you can help to save her
If you buy her chocolates
She carries with her babies in her pouch


She comes out after dark
That beautiful little Bilby
She hears you are asleep and tucked in tight
She has such big ears she knows you are dreaming
She’ll bring a chocolate Bilby tonight


At what point can you just scrap the entire holiday and start over? My proposed slogan for the Easter Bilby campaign: If you like Vegemite you'll love the Easter Bilby! I'm pretty sure nobody else gets it.


Marie said...

Having owned rabbits, I have no problem dispensing with them as a symbol of New Life and all that pagan nonsense. Our rabbits were stupid and violent and our female rabbit refused to take care of the one baby she didn't smother, so we had to bottle-raise it. It lived in the house and thought it was a cat. If our rabbits had been abandoned in Australia, they would've been too dumb to reproduce, but I don't expect the ones overrunning Australia have a much higher IQ. If the Australians wanna string bits of Easter Bunny on a kabob, more power to 'em.

I say bring on the bilby. He's cute, in a freaky sorta way.

Sarah said...

What about "smothering your young" doesn't scream Easter? Or is that just a holiday tradition in my family?

Chanel said...

Ok can I just say I cover my eyes everytime I pull up your blog, in fear you have had your baby and won't be posting. Is it too much to ask to blog while you're in labor? YOU CRACK ME UP!

I give the Austrailan credit for coming up with a new mascot for Easter. Now if we could just do that for the White House.

Colleen said...

I hate Peeps. The best usage I've ever seen of them was at an Aquabats show in college. I think the song was about Peeps and they were throwing them at the audience. Marshmallow weapons. Awesome. And I've heard they're pretty cool when you stick them in the microwave. Someone else will have to verify that one. I refuse to purchase the revolting hunks of goo.

Marie said...

A few Easters back my bro discovered an entire webpage devoted to Peep torture -- um -- research. I especially love the "surgical separation of the Peep quintuplets."

Twinkies have been subjected to a similar indignity:

AzĂșcar said...

I hate peeps too.

Rabbits make good dinner and good coats.

Bek said...

This post made my day. I hope that the funny doesn't go away in light of the impending feedings and child rearing duties..... :-)

My dad is Australian and you pretty much summed it up.

Sarah said...

I've seen that Peeps site before :) my favorite is their Smoking and Alcohol test page. I'll eat a fresh Peeps anyday but most of them get stale just by looking at them.

The Twinkies one is surprising - I was sure they would find more proof of life inside those suckers.

Can you even buy rabbit to eat in a U.S. restaurant? I don't think I've ever seen it on a menu here. Most people probably have to rely on Crazy Uncle Bob to bring home some dead ones for dinner.

Adrienne said...


A. Smothering your young is an Evans family tradition.
B. Peeps are best stale. I age mine a year. The ones from '06 should be just about ready by now.
C. Not only can you get rabbit in some (nicer) restaurants in Bloomington, there are several places around town (usually private homes) with signs out side stating that they have "Rabbits! Pets or Meat!"

And something about this time of year, too... they start looking tasty, those bucktoothed punks. Also, they're probably really well fed since they've EATEN ALL THE PANSIES I PLANTED.

Kerri said...

When I first got married and moved into Arthur's appt, I found peeps in the shower sitting on top of the ledge. We got married in october, so I can only guess that they had been there at least 6 months. I kept them there for about a month and then I couldn't stand them anymore and had to take them down. I was surprised how well preserved they had lasted (even in the bathroom's humid conditions). My enjoyment in eating peeps somehow has never been the same.

Sarah - good to know you are still around and not pregnant! Yeah, no Hollywood Flakes maternity leave!

Melissa said...

Easter candy is the best! And while I was reading your post, I consumed 5 bright red peeps. YUMMM... they were a little too fresh though. Needed to be a little more stale...

Jill said...

You can buy rabbit not only in restaurants but also in grocery stores. I think I bought one at Bristol Farms in South Pasadena to cook a few years ago before I was mostly a vegetarian. It looked a lot like a rabbit. I felt a little sad cooking it.

Foxy said...

This is my favorite picture of the Australian rabbit. Ranchers would have to hire 3 or 4 rabbit shooters FULL TIME to deal with the menace. Myxomatosis killed most of them but they're making a comeback.

s'mee said...

Vegemite! Wow, nothing like that in the world! An acquired taste at best, but probably a fair dinkum side dish to a rabbit on the barbi.

Those Bilbies (bilbi???)are pretty knarly creatures...I think I'll stick to the bunny and call it a night.

Janie and Andrew said...

Peeps are the worst things ever. Put them in the microwave with toothpicks for swords, and watch them joust. It's the greatest!

acte gratuit said...

"She just smiled and gave me a vegamite sandwich...and I said Ohhh, do you come from the land down-under..."

Gotta go listen to some 80's now.