Few holidays have a symbol as lovable as the Easter bunny. But Australians want to replace the floppy-eared rabbit with a homegrown mascot, the bilby.
The omnivorous animals, which are about the size of a rabbit and are equally big-eared and adorable, are endangered because of feral cats, and, yes, the destructive rabbits accidentaly introduced into Australia. Scientists say only a few hundred of the animals remain the wild. But scientists and bilby supporters are now trying to raise awareness of the animals and preserve the species.
Bilby-keeper Mike Drinkwater sums up why the bilby would make an ideal Easter mascot for Australians.
"The bilby is a beautiful, iconic native animal that is struggling. It is endangered, so it's important that we do all we can to support that," he said to Reuters.
Chocolate-maker Darrell Lea is getting into the act by selling chocolate bilbies instead of the more traditional bunnies and donating thousands of dollars to charities dedicated to saving the Bilby.
"I want little kids to recognise bilbies and talk about them for the next 100 years, and giving a bilby instead of a bunny is a good way of encouraging that," Frank Manthey, one of the co-founders of the Save the Bilby fund told the Queensland Times.