Monday, June 30, 2008

Bunny bites back

Published 26 June 2008 - Herald Sun

A treat turned into a trauma for 22-month-old Charlii when she was bitten by a bunny at a northern suburbs petting zoo.

Her mum, Laura Perry, feels insult has been added to injury after being refused compensation for medical bills by Darebin Council, which runs popular Cooper's Settlement at Bundoora Park.

Ms Perry took Laura to the theme park in late April and they went straight to the rabbit and guinea pig enclosure.

"My mum was in there with her. I was outside because I was looking at buying her a bunny - can you believe it?"

Ms Perry said her daughter was too scared to pick up the animals, content just to look.

"She bent down and pointed at the rabbit... and then there was an almighty scream and blood pouring out of one of her fingers, Ms Perry said.

A staff member immediately removed the rabbit and Charlii was rushed to a docter, then the Northern Hospital.

X-rays were taken and Ms Perry and her husband - who had rushed home from work to help care for their five-month-old baby - were told they would have to wait for a plastic surgeon to stitch the wound.

Distraught Charlii had to wait until 9pm - without eating - to have the surgery under general anesthetic. They stayed at the hospital overnight.

"I spent two days crying, looking at her lying in the hospital bed with her arms bandaged. I felt so guilty because I had taken her there for a treat," said Ms Perry.

She said she was shocked by the extent of her daughter's injury, and stressed she had only requested compensation for $30 spent on antibiotics and $15 entry to the park.

"It's not about the money. It's about warning other parents," Ms Perry said.

A statement from Darebin Council manager of risk services Liam McCarthy said he could not comment on individual compensation claims.

He said: "Rabbits represent an extremely low risk compared to the benefits to children to view and handle them."

He said it was rare for rabbits to scratch or bite children unless handled roughly. However, there were clear signs stating the risks.

All rabbits undergo a personality evaluation before being made available for handling in a staff-supervised areas, he said.

"Signs require that parents supervise their children at all times when handling the rabbits," he said.

This is why petting zoos are bad news for any animal. One bunny defends itself and this woman screams "compensation". What about compensation to all the bunnies tortured, poked & prodded by small children to be left permanently scared physically & emotionally? What about compensation to all the bunnies that end up at shelters & euthanased after families lose interest after a few weeks?