Bourbonnais – Located behind the children’s book shelves at the Bourbonnais Public Library, this is one of the library’s most beloved ambassadors.
Don’t let his official name – Sir Edmund Winterbottom – fool you. He is kind and friendly.
Not to mention it’s fluffy and gorgeous.
Sir Edmund, 4 years old [approximately] White Rabbit, he will celebrate his three-year adoption next month.
The library was accredited by Sir Edmund in November 2019 from the Kankakee Provincial Humanitarian Foundation.
Rory Barillac, Superintendent of Children’s Services, can hardly believe it has been a long time since Sir Edmund joined the library family.
“His story is in some ways shrouded in mystery,” Barillac said, noting that Sir Edmund’s exact background, ancestry, and age are unknown. “But I will say that seeing the children interact with it is one of the greatest pleasures of work that I really love.”
The current chapter of Sir Edmund’s story begins with the idea of having the first pet in the library.
“I’ve worked in other libraries with pets before, and I thought we could get rid of them,” Barillac said, recalling when the Children’s Services staff pitched the idea to librarian Kelly McCauley.
At first, Barillac was thinking of jerboas.
She had kept jerboas as pets before and knew they would be relatively easy to care for, but they are still active and fun for children to observe.
McCauley was thinking about it when a cute white rabbit on the KCHF website caught her eye.
“I love animals, but I’ve never cared for a rabbit,” Barillac said. “but when [McCully] Seeing it on the Humane Foundation website, she thought, “This is our bunny.”
The KCHF worked closely with the library to ensure that Sir Edmund had the supplies he needed to settle into his new home.
Barillac and her team watched many videos on YouTube to learn about rabbit care. Rabbit-lovers of the library also offered tips and advice.
Sir Edmund goes to 4 Paws Pet Clinic in Bourbon for veterinary care.
The refuge promised that it would take back Sir Edmund if the placement was not suitable.
Fortunately, this was not the case. Three years later, Sir Edmund blossomed into his role as “Library Rabbit”.
“I think it’s definitely a lucky cake,” said KCHF Director Jordan Chapman.
Sir Edmund came to the KCHF as a stray after someone found him outside, approached him and took him.
His all-white color and friendly nature were clues that he might have been someone’s abandoned pet.
Now, having Sir Edmund in the library helps educate children about pet adoption.
“It was a good way to get around [pet adoption] Chapman said. “And, like, he’s just a social guy, and they work with him on things. He’s on the move, and the kids learn something.”
Sir Edmund also works to educate library-goers about the traits and quirks of rabbits.
“Some people don’t know that rabbits are actually very smart and adorable pets,” Chapman added.
Arrived right before the pandemic
Although Sir Edmund moved smoothly into his new home, the timing wasn’t quite perfect.
The COVID-19 pandemic hit a few months after it arrived.
From March through July 2020, the library is closed to the general public.
The library has many animal lovers among its staff. However, no one was able to take Sir Edmund home with them, as many of them already had rabbit-unfriendly pets at home.
So Sir Edmund stayed in the library, and the staff took turns coming every day to provide him with care, and to make sure he always had enough food, water and exercise.
It was a lot of work without rewarding the kids for interacting with him, Barillac said.
“But it was worth it because he is a very good rabbit, and he interacts with children very well,” she said. “He doesn’t mind getting lots and lots of pats every day.”
Sir Edmund’s character seems well suited to the “library rabbit” duties.
“We had no way of knowing when we adopted it that it would be relatively cold,” Barillac said. And that’s what we say about him – ‘What a cool bunny we have. “
Since the staff would be relied upon to take care of Sir Edmund, it was decided that the staff would name him.
While the name may sound literary, Sir Edmund Winterbottom does not refer to any book or story.
“[The staff member] I just thought he needed a luxury title because he would be a kind of royal rabbit,” Barillac said.
Of course, Sir Edmund has a host of nicknames. Some of my favorites are Eddie, Buns, or Mr. Winterbottom or Big Bottom.
Sir Edmund goes out to exercise daily for about two hours; He was brought into the workroom behind the lending desk to roam freely.
He especially likes to stretch his legs in the office of the librarian – a clear indication of his “royal” status.
“He can go anywhere he wants as long as we know where he is,” Barillac said.
When Sir Edmund is in a particularly good mood, he will run, jump and do an extra kick in the air, a movement referred to in the rabbit world as “eccentric.”
Rabbits are known to do the little things when they are happy or excited.
“We know we do a good job of him when he does malicious things for us,” she said.
Sir Edmund is sometimes brought in for children’s programmes, but he generally interacts with children from his cage. Librarians will open the cage doors to children who want to pet it.
“It’s the softest he gets,” Barillac noted about Sir Edmund’s fur. “If there is a softer animal, I don’t know what it is.”
Barillac noted that children of all ages had always been kind and respectful to Sir Edmund. Children also show their curiosity and ask questions about it, as well as share stories about their bunnies at home.
“To me, it really showed the sweetness of our patrons,” Barillac said. “I think he feels safe and loved here.”
Children often ask if they can give Sir Edmund a carrot. However, he only enjoys carrots once a month, as they are high in sugar and offered as an occasional treat for rabbits.
His favorite foods are turnip and green lettuce.
As a librarian, Sir Edmund also has a favorite book, “The Little White Rabbit” by Kevin Hinks.
Children often suggest alternative names for Sir Edmund. The most requested is the “snowball”.
Shepherds also inquire about Sir Edmund’s ancestry, which is unknown. There are over 300 domestic rabbit breeds worldwide, about 50 of which are recognized by the American Rabbit Breeders Association.
“We have no idea [his breed]; Barillac said the humanitarian establishment did not know. “We just tell the kids, ‘He’s the best bunny.’ What kind of bunny is he? Like, he’s the best.”
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