Easter Bilby? Royal family visits Australia's version of Easter Bunny
Fan-Yee Suen, CTVNews.ca
Published Sunday, April 20, 2014 8:01AM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, April 20, 2014 4:35PM EDT
It's not every day a long-nosed, rodent-like animal vying to symbolically replace the cute and fuzzy Easter Bunny in Australia is graced by British royalty.
On Easter Sunday the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited a bilby named after their son, Prince George, at Australia’s Taronga Zoo.
Sunday’s visit is part of the young Royal family’s three-week tour Down Under. They arrived in Sydney on Wednesday following a visit to New Zealand.
“The royal couple will view the Bilby exhibit and the bilby which had been named after Prince George, as part of the Australian government’s gift following his birth in mid-2013,” the zoo said in a statement on its website.
Once found throughout Australia, the desert-dwelling bilby is now decreasing in numbers as a result of increased competition from other species.
“(Bilbies) are now threatened in the wild,” the zoo, which is part of a national breeding program, said.
One of those invasive species includes the feral European rabbit, which according to the Australia government causes “severe damage” to the natural environment.
To help raise awareness about how invasive the rascally rabbit in Australia actually is, some in the country have been pushing to replace the traditional Easter mascot with the bilby.
In 1991, the Foundation for Rabbit-Free Australia (RFA) registered the name the “Easter Bilby.”
“Very young children are indoctrinated with the concept that bunnies are nice, soft, fluffy creatures whereas in reality, they are Australia’s greatest environmental feral pest,” the RFA said in statement on its website.
Over the years, the campaign to replace the Easter Bunny with the Easter Bilby has been gaining traction.
This year, many Australian parents chose the small animal over the rabbit to be the symbolic bearer of their children’s Easter eggs.
The easter bilby was very generous--Charlie had a great time hunting for eggs, with all the other 'kids' in tow! pic.twitter.com/fhZ1ngecsc— David M Watson (@D0CT0R_Dave) April 19, 2014
Some Australians like to tell their kids that it's the Easter Bilby that brings chocolate eggs instead of the Easter Bunny— Stephen (@h3ggsy) April 19, 2014