The wildlife of NYC is much maligned, and yet every honest-to-God New Yorker knows these scrappy, hard-bitten creatures are an integral part of experiencing the city. Maybe you saw a rat as big as Corgi attack a Corgi the size of a slightly smaller Corgi!? Perhaps you encountered a roach trying to sell you a Rolex? I was mugged at knifepoint by a Central Park squirrel–-we all have our stories! But is this delicate ecosystem ready for a new player?
Meet the Gowanus Bunnies—the roughest rabbits you’ll ever meet and the latest addition to the brutal fauna of the five boroughs. In a Brooklyn neighborhood best known for the opaquely polluted waters of the Gowanus Canal, these flinty Leporidae found a home in a dirt alley next to a tire shop, and while their fuzzy-wuzzy cuteness hasn’t gone completely unappreciated by the neighborhood, the urban bunnies may be becoming a problem.
For one, they reproduce in accordance with stereotype, and their famed fecundity has bolstered the colony’s ranks into a verging swarm. That may not sound very threatening, but rabbits burrow, and a lot of important and delicate stuff goes on underground in New York, including electrical work and the foundations of some very old rotting buildings. Others fear a more Night of the Lepus situation, noting the rabbits seem to have developed a taste for chicken wings (could human flesh be much further down the road?!?).
Local Joel Bukiewicz, who owns a knife shop across the street from the rabbits, has seen the bunnies fighting viciously:
“I think of rabbits as friendly, innocent and sweet,” Bukiewicz said. “These are angry, hardened city rabbits and possibly carnivorous. These are Gowanus rabbits. I wouldn’t want to bring one home.”
Of course attached to all of this is a “New York person”—30-something piano teacher Dorota Trec, who calls her pets “erotic,” and maintains that there’s nothing unsavory, dangerous or unethical about her rapidly multiplying herd. Animal welfare advocates disagree, and Trec is currently facing potential action from the health department who are probably rightly concerned about an animal hoarder who appears to be ground zero for a new pest epidemic. I hope they get them all spayed, but I don’t hold out too much hope for adoption—I’m not sure these rabbits can be rehabilitated back into society.