I apologize to the Lop-Eared Lionhead Bunny. First time I saw a picture of him, I burst out laughing.
Then I just wanted to take him home. This is one of the darn cutest animals I’ve ever seen. I had to look him up since I’d never heard of a Lop-Eared Lionhead Bunny, rather, rabbit, and it turns out Lionhead Rabbits are a relatively new breed. Understandably, given the natural draw to all things precociously cute, they’re very popular.
What is it about this little guy that just makes me want to hold him forever and ever? It was the same thing the first time I saw my cat Walter. He was the cutest ball of fluff ever to walk this earth. I wasn’t able to take him home at that time; he was my neighbors’ cat until they abandoned him. Then I couldn’t stand it anymore. Combine cute with cold and hungry and you’ve got a home.
Well, when I have one to offer.
I think it’s a redeeming quality in so many of us that we want to care for others, especially the forlorn. There are those who are drawn to homelier helpless animals because they have the added disadvantage of possible rejection for their looks. They actually look cute in their own sad way.
We don’t think of it as admirable, perhaps, because it’s natural. Turns out it’s more natural than some of us might realize: we’re what some call “hard-wired” to protect cute things, because they’re generally, by definition, young (did you know baby animals have proportionally bigger eyes?) and unable to care for themselves, and wouldn’t survive without us.
It’s understandable we’d want human babies to survive, or as a species we’d soon die out. But why would we care about bunnies?
Okay, pet owners could list dozens of reasons why, but the reality is, part of their survival depends on being…cute. Same for kittens and puppies and little bear cubs. Elephants, with their big ol’ ears and sweet soulful eyes, are endearing at any age, so we get angry when we hear they’re killed for their ivory. As we should.
I love that nature protects its own.* Whether you believe its by design or evolution (or a complex combination of both), you have to appreciate such a vast system that cares for and perpetuates itself.
And creates new species, perhaps with a little assistance from mankind, like Lop-Eared Lionhead Bunnies.