Helen Woodward Animal Center (HWAC)is continually fulfilling their mission of “people helping animals and animals helping people” by engaging community members of all ages in various activities that promote animals. Take for instance this past weekend when HWAC reenacted Aesop’s famous fable the Tortoise and the Hare.
Helmet, the Sulcata Tortoise, and Hashbrown, the Flemish Giant Rabbit, reenacted the epic race when they went head to head this past Saturday outside the Helen Woodward Animal Center Education Building. They performed the age-old battle to bring a dash to potential victory between the two legendary critters.
The best thing is that their audience was approximately 60 Critter Campers, aged four to 10. Parents that enroll their children in such a fantastic show of sportsmanship are likely to lend their children even more as the kids realize some-BUNNY either proved or dispelled the legendary results of the epic com-PET-ition.
Last Thursday, all eyes were on the 23-year-old male tortoise, Helmet as he took to the racetrack against his competitor Hashbrown, the Flemish Giant Rabbit. Helmet has been known to tear up the racetrack at the Center’s Sulcata Speedway. He is actually the favorite amongst the Critter Campers since he has won 10 out of 10 of the 2014 Summer Critter Camp Races against his pen-mate Sulcata Tortoise Scooter. Helmet even headed it off against the relative education newbie Zoey, a spry Desert Tortoise who also proved no match to the 23-year-old’s winning dash across the finish line. At a quarter of his expected lifespan (typically 100 years), those that have witnessed Helmet say that he has the size, strength and drive to go up against most anyone.
“There’s something about that finish line,” said Education Assistant Manager Bree Muehl. “Once he has it in his sights, he just seems determined not to let anyone beat him to it.” Now, however, education staff fear that Helmet’s wins may have gone to his head, with the gauntlet thrown to his latest challenger, lightning-quick education rabbit, Hashbrown.
Hashbrown is young; only 21 months of age, so he lacked his running-competitor’s experience. The male Flemish Giant Rabbit was originally bred as a “show rabbit.” Unfortunately it was discovered that Hashbrown had a broken tear duct that proved below “show bunny standards.” That, in effect, was the reason the young rabbit was donated to the Center Humane Education Program by Shelley’s Shelter last year. He soon became a local celebri-Bunny with the Critter Campers. He is famous for “saying please” for Craisins, hopping around on his harness and leash or getting wheeled around in his stroller.
The Center keepers believe that the “show bunny let-down” may have spurred this critter on; giving him something to prove. Some believe that Hashbrown was the shoe-in for the Critter Camper race.
Parents gave their children to learn the ultimate lesson of focus and determination and how it often triumphs over genetics and sheer speed by watching the reenactment of Aesop’s Tortoise and the Hare Fable. In the end, though, the outcome did not truly matter. What matters most is that HWAC offers humans and animals alike ways to learn proper life lessons – especially the gift of love.
For more information how more parents can get their children involved in Helen Woodward Animal Center’s Humane Education Programs, go to www.animalcenter.org, phone 858-756-4117 x 316 or stop by at 6461 El Apajo Road in Rancho Santa Fe.