And “just like that” — the RSPCA has teamed up with the Tommy Cooper and Caerphilly Observer Society as part of an exciting new competition looking to name the rabbit that appears on an iconic statuette of the comedian.
Cooper, born in Kervilly in 1921, was a popular comedian and magician, best known for wearing a red fez. He is remembered by the iconic statue outside Caerphilly Castle, which was first unveiled by fellow Welshman Sir Anthony Hopkins in 2008.
The statue features a rabbit – although ironically, Cooper’s act did not involve pulling a rabbit out of the hat. However, he was best known for the routine known as “White Rabbit – Black Rabbit”, which involves sleight of hand and changing the places of animal models on stage.
RSPCA Cymru says Cooper’s legacy, competition, and the rabbit’s naming on the statue provide a “great opportunity” to promote key welfare messages about the animal, at a time when the RSPCA is facing a “rabbit crisis”.
Rabbit care expert Dr. Jane Tyson, of the RSPCA’s Companion Animals Division, said:
Lots of Tommy Cooper’s unique comedies have survived well and truly have stood the test of time. Although he didn’t pull live rabbits out of the hat himself, the figurine does feature a rabbit – although, fortunately, it’s a good thing that live animals in any magic tricks are now largely a thing of the past!
The RSPCA is pleased to partner with the Tommy Cooper Society and the Caerphilly Observer to help locals name the rabbit for this iconic statue – well known throughout South Wales and beyond.
We know animals can really capture people’s imaginations – and we look forward to hearing some amazing name suggestions; Which may even inspire us when we name the many rescue rabbits in our own centers in search of a new opportunity to be a happy home forever.
The call to name the famous Metal Rabbit comes after the RSPCA was exposed to an influx of unwanted rabbits through its centers and branches in England and Wales.
In 2020, 672 rabbits entered the care of the RSPCA, and in 2021, 859 rabbits were accommodated by the RSPCA – an increase of 28 percent. There are growing concerns that the sudden rise in the number of unwanted rabbits is linked to pets acquired during lockdown. Unfortunately, this has sometimes resulted in inexperienced owners getting tired of them, finding it difficult to care for them, or not being able to afford their own care amid the pressures of cost of living.
Nearly 1,000 more rabbits were classified by the charity as ‘neglected’ in 2021 – up to 5,451 – compared to 4,544 in 2020.
Dr. Jane added:
This competition comes at a really tough time for rabbits across the UK. It’s kind of a rabbit crisis – the numbers in our care have increased dramatically in recent times.
We are concerned that many people may view rabbits as a good ‘starter pet’ during the Covid lockdowns while looking for companionship or something to do. While many rabbits have found wonderful homes during that time, in some cases, unfortunately, the situation is different and the novelty may wear off – rabbits have long lifespans and complex needs.
However, if potential owners do their research, and know the commitment they are taking – rabbits are amazing pets.
There are countless rabbits looking for new homes under our care; So we hope that some of the rabbit-loving Tommy Cooper fans looking to make some new additions to their family will visit the RSPCA’s pet search section.
Rabbits are social animals – they prefer to live in pairs. RSPCA reintroduce rabbits either as established pairs or seek to pair a rabbit with an existing rabbit owned by a potential adopter.
Dr. Jane said:
The little rabbit on the statue appears to be a lone keeper – but this is a great opportunity to remind potential owners that rabbits are naturally very social animals and like the company of other rabbits.
Rabbits can develop abnormal behavior and may suffer if left on their own and doing nothing for extended periods, so keeping them with at least one other friendly rabbit is very important, and is something our centers guarantee when re-homing them.
The magical mixture is often a neutral male and a neutral female, as neutering reduces the likelihood of fighting in both sexes, and prevents unwanted breeding.
Find out more about rabbit care.
Theodore Jones MBE, 88, is the president of the Tommy Cooper Association. He was previously president of the local Glamorgan North East chapter of the RSPCA for 37 years. He said:
I was giving a talk recently to an audience in Caerphilly about Cooper’s life – and one of the ladies in attendance said that her grandson would have loved nothing more than to go see the statue – but not to see Tommy, but the rabbit instead!
This struck me as a great opportunity to name a rabbit – hoping to create a little interest locally in Tommy Cooper, and the work our association is doing.
We put up the statue – unveiled by Sir Anthony Hopkins – a few years ago; The rabbit was originally supposed to climb the Cooper’s cane, but the sculptor had some difficulties getting the animal to stick. Therefore, the hare is formed separately instead and looks at the audience, the inhabitants of Kervili, saying “Here I am, I’m not in the hat.”
While the phrase “rabbit out of a hat” has become a common phrase in our language, it’s funny that Cooper never did that trick. We think it’s funny and fitting that we even mistook it for the style of his routine – getting Tommy to do a trick he didn’t actually do! “
The Tommy Cooper Association is now raising funds to install local defibrillators across the Caerphilly County area, through its “Tommy’s Ticker” campaign — and has installed 14 devices since the statue was erected in 2008. Tudor added:
Once we built the statue, there was a risk that things would get a little heady – but we kept the fundraising going. Of course, the Tommy tape unfortunately stopped broadcasting live TV – so we thought it was really appropriate to raise money for local defibrillators.
So every year, we celebrate a brunch, and we’re all wearing cowl hats, tucking into an axe-shaped cake and a Tommy Cooper toast. Our fundraising effort has already helped pay for 14 pacemakers across Caerphilly, and if anyone wants to support this work they can contact us.
Sadly, the Centenary Lunch had to be canceled – 100 years after its birth – due to Covid restrictions; But we made up for it in March of this year to celebrate our centenary plus one and raise even more vital money.
The Tommy Cooper Association also hopes that the competition will provide a good opportunity for people across South Wales and beyond to discuss rabbit care.
During my time with the local RSPCA chapter, inspectors would often attend our meetings and tell us about rabbit rescues, or the sad stories where they investigated rabbit cruelty.
Hopefully, while a new name is chosen, we can also have a really important conversation about rabbit care; The important messages of the RSPCA about good rabbit care can be heard.
Who knows what the name will be? I always remember a mischievous radio DJ hijacking the competition to name a royal research vessel the Boaty McBoatFace – so maybe Bunny McBunFace is the name!
Unfortunately, the RSPCA’s Newport Animal Center – the closest reintroduction facility to the statue – says rabbit reintroduction has actually slowed down recently; They are eager to find suitable homes for the rabbits in their care; With more waiting to fill their pens once they leave the center.
Chloe and Harry, about 1 year old, are one well-established pair of bunnies looking for a home together from the Newport Charity Center.
The spouse can successfully live with sane children of primary school age.
Chloe is an inquisitive female rabbit and would benefit from having plenty of room to explore and jump around. Her partner Harry is a cute and friendly rabbit who enjoys preparing for short periods of time and enjoys exploring alongside Chloe.
Meanwhile, Youngster Reign was born at the center earlier this year and is looking for a forever home with a new owner who can work on his socialization skills. Ideally, he will be paired with a sterile female of the same size; Reign will likely be able to live with children of primary school age.
Reign is a small rabbit, but he still needs plenty of space because he loves to explore and is very curious about his surroundings.
Catherine Logan, of the RSPCA’s Newport Animal Center, added:
Chloe, Harry and Rin are just three bunnies looking for a forever home.
It’s a rabbit crisis across England and Wales at the moment for the RSPCA – rabbit reintroduction has really slowed, and there are plenty of rabbits waiting to come to our centres.
We get a lot of cries for help from the public—as we emerge from the pandemic, and the truth hits about what a commitment to keeping a rabbit might be like. We know that the cost of living crisis is also putting enormous pressure on people.
However, for the right owners, rabbits are great pets – and we always urge people to consider a rescue animal. We really hope – in collaboration with the Tommy Cooper Society – we can draw attention to the countless rabbits in our care and find the magic of a loving new home forever.
Anyone interested can contact the center at 0300123 0744 or send an email to [email protected] Redirect visits to the Hartridge Farm Road Center are by appointment and we can’t wait to introduce these adorable rabbits to potential owners.
The winner of the Caerphilly Observer Contest can claim a number of top prizes offered by the RSPCA – including a subscription to Animal Life magazine, Animal Action magazine for kids, plus a gift bag of rabbit-themed gifts – including a mug, laundry bag, cuddly toy Wildlife and a collection of handcrafted figurines. The deadline for the competition is September 30, and entries can be submitted via Caerphilly Observer Site.
Curfely Observer reporter, Rhys Williams, said:
The Tommy Cooper statue has become a focal point in the city since its unveiling. This contest is a great opportunity for people to learn more not only about Tommy Cooper, but also about animal welfare and Careville herself – so we’re excited to be able to run this alongside the Tommy Cooper Society and RSCPA Cymru.
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