Bunny Blog

Bunny Town: Great Lakes Rabbit Sanctuary

Great Lakes Rabbit Sanctuary, located at an old farm in Whittaker, MI, is the largest rabbit rescue in the US. Currently, their rabbit population has reached 550, with 75 adoptable bunnies and 475 feral rabbits. The rabbits up for adoption live in pens while the feral rabbits live outdoors in two large enclosures. There, the rabbits have dug an elaborate warren, but come out to play in the snow and run around.


For more information, see kids’ news video: Bunny Town! and the Great Lakes Rabbit Sanctuary website.

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22 thoughts on “Bunny Town: Great Lakes Rabbit Sanctuary

  1. Joanie Stambaugh

    You call this ‘RESCUE”?? Those rabbits should be taken from this so-called sanctuary and given to folks who know how to properly care for them. This is totally unacceptble by any standards– breeder or rescuer!! Shame on these folks!

    1. carrie

      have you had rabbits drop off in your yard ????
      do know how fast 1 female rabbit make bunnies and been to for all hours of and night trying catch rabbits that never been cages they just like crazy wild rabbits 1 or two people can’t catch them all and traps some rabbits won’t any where close so at out

  2. Carla

    OMG those rabbits are left in the open and exposed to predators. And the rescues think this is humane?? Any responsible rabbit breeder who provides homes, feed, and loving care to their rabbits is sickened by the treatment these rabbits are receiving. They only reason any of these rabbits are feral is because they were turned loose in the first place.

  3. Disgusted

    So, let me get this straight, these are the same rabbits “siezed” from a “horder” in Utah who kept them outside, exposed to the elements. Now they have been “relocated” to a “rescue” halfway across the country and are now kept outside exposed to the elements in a colder climate…

    Tell me, who cleans the feces out of the “warrens” to prevent coccidiosis?

    Are these the same people who complain that outdoor hutches are inhumane and that every bunny needs to be kept inside a home, warm and snuggly?

    Are these the same people who berate rabbit fanciers for housing rabbits in individual cages?

    Clearly, there is a double standard in play here.

  4. myhouserabbit Post author

    From what I understand, the rabbits who live outside in the warren/pasture are feral rabbits. They are not the rescue’s adoptable rabbits. Those rabbits live in the rabbit barn in pens until they find a new forever home. From what I read, the permanent residents are those deemed ineligible for adoption either due to temperament or health. So I’m sure if the rabbits could have been adopted out to indoor homes, they would have been.

    Also, the permanent residents living outside at the sanctuary are in a predator proof area where they have access to different barns. When they were in Reno, Nevada (not Utah), they had multiplied to 1600 before another rescue could spay/neuter them all, and they were also just out in the open, not in a predator proof pasture. Here at the rabbit sanctuary, all the residents are spayed/neutered, protected, and have a source of clean hay and water everyday (the rescue seems to have a lot of dedicated volunteers who keep the pasture and barns clean).

    So it seems to me that the rescue is providing the best possible life for these rabbits who are caught between a completely wild existence and a completely domestic life.

  5. Paula

    God Bless You! It takes a good person to provide such a sanctuary. I was here yesterday and there were no negative comments. Suddenly they have all appeared. I know where they came from and am not afraid to say it. Some breeders fail to realize that not everyone butchers rabbits. A warren of rabbits that are spayed and neutered is certainly a site to see. Survival of the fittest. If domestic rabbits were put in the wild they would die without someone to care for them.

    I am disturbed by so many negative comments. Some of these people do not realize the cost invested in caring for feral and non feral rabbits. I think what you are doing is a good thing. Living outdoors is better than being beaten over the head and put on a dinner plate. The bunnies don’t look to be suffering and I am sure that if you are a licensed rescue that you have mandatory vet health check-ups.

    It reminds me of the video, Dr. Death that was posted on the internet a few years ago. This doctor in Las Vegas spends his free time spaying and neutering feral cats, and yes he then returns them to their areas.

    There is no solution to the problem between breeders and rescues. I am proud to admit that I would qualify as a breeder but probably one of the few that cares as much as the rescues. Unfortunately there will always be pig-headed breeders who think they are always right. I say walk a mile in the other persons shoes before judging.

    Again God Bless You for providing these feral rabbits a safe haven. I would just ignore the pig-headed and arrogant people who have a God complex.

  6. Joanie Stambaugh

    These people should be in jail for becoming hoarders themselves!! I am disgusted by what I see here. It is obvious to me that they do not have the first clue about how to care for a rabbit and then they just toss them out in these horrendous conditions to basically fend for themselves. I’d love to be able to make the drive to this sanctuary, I’d remove the rabbits from there myself!! They surely deserve better than what they are getting. Hell, they should have been left where they were in Utah since this place is no better.

    Well, I can see that this is the same old ‘double standard’ as I saw in rescue during the four-plus years I was involved in it….. I am ashamed to have ever done rescue because of the things I saw and could do nothing about. The sad part was that it was rescuers who were guilty of the offenses, not the general public! Most places like this one are only in it for the money they get donated and that is a real crime since they don’t use the funds for the animals it was intended for. I wonder, is that what this is, another scheme to get money for nothing?

    Anyone who would condone such a facility needs to do some reading. As pointed out, this is a haven for predators, disease and all sorts of other problems and it should not be allowed to continue. Please, put an end to this facility ASAP or these rabbits will just become more casualties of rescue and victims of ignorance.

  7. Paula


    You may have had different experiences than I have but I have seen the worst of the worst. I worked with animal control and some of the situations we encountered from hoarders were sickening. There was one home in particular where a hoarder had over 500 cats and dogs. There were emaciated animals everywhere and several carcasses. The animals there were obviously not being fed and there was a layer of feces on the floor more than a foot deep.

    From what I gather the animals here are feral and unadoptable. After reading the articles and watching the videos I learned that they are cared for daily. The yard is fenced in and secure. Some people don’t realize how difficult of a job it is. From my interpretation they have many volunteers that care for the animals daily. There was even one video of a vet, or vet tech or equally trained person treating an animal with a serious wound. Domestic rabbits can live outside. They actually do better in the cold than they do in the heat.

    If you could go to this place and take the 500 rabbits what would you do with them? Shelters are over populated with unwanted animals and that is just a sad fact. It would be impossible to find homes for 500 feral rabbits. These rabbits have not had the best of life and can be aggressive. People wouldn’t want them for pets and those that did would be few and far between.

    I know you said you worked for rescues and think they are in it for the money. I tend to disagree. Our rescues in this area are struggling to make ends meet. Vet visits, treatments and spays and neuters really add up. It comes down to a point of what else are you going to do with them. Is it more humane to euthanize them when they seem to be living happy lives?

    Like I said before I am all for animal reserves. To me this is what this farm is except it is for bunnies. It is something I would do if I could. We spay and neuter all rabbits at our home and then bond them. This cost alone is more than I make in 1 year.

    I am going to ask a friend of mine her opinion. She is a PhD in biology and runs etherbun. I know that they have wild hares and that they are also kept outside.

    I just don’t think we should give these people such a hard time. They are doing the best they can with the resources they have.

    Not all rabbits are capable of living in a house, s/n or not. They also enjoy the company of other rabbits since they are social creatures.

    Like I said, I have never visited the place but I see no double standard here.

    My opinion anyway, and you are certainly entilted to yours.

    I am not personally

  8. J

    I can’t believe this. Shelters and rescues are allowed to do this type of housing but breeders aren’t? I’ve seen this too many times and its such a double standard. I’ve seen people wrote up and their animals taken for the EXACT same manner of keeping them. The animals were taken because they werent’a shelther or rescue, plain and simple. These places are treated with they can do any thing as long as the rabbit looks “happy” reguardless of whether they are actually being responsibly taken care of.

    As far as feral being….the only reason they are is because they’ve been dumped outside and left to fend for themselfs against each other. It doesn’t matter that they’re recieving food/water every day, the stress placed on these buns by being put into “groups” is crazy. While rabbits can be social and get along quite nicely with others, not every one of them is going to get along. And on the health issues reason, if it were the case that they are in such poor health, why are they being stuck outside in the freezing cold to die? After all the “must be inside” spoofing from the House Rabbit Society and other like groups, one would think this group would be shut down for being inhumane. I certainly think they should as they don’t know how to care for rabbits at all. But that’s not going to happen because they’re a rescue and its alright because of that as long as they’re not being used for any purpose other then what their ideal is.

    I know not every one eats rabbit or wants to hear about it and that’s fine. I would never eat one of my babies ever and I never want to catch some one considering it either but I know that there are no alternatives and that it is a better thing to happen then to leave them outside to fight to live. No one said that they had to be eaten exactly but the alternative of being put to good use is better then being dumped out and forgotten in some pen and left to fight over food with others. I know I’d rather be put to use then to have a hole dug and thrown away. Hundreds of animals get this done to them from shelters and rescues just because they don’t want to face the fact that if its a multipurpose animal and the animal is not pet/show/breeding material then it should be put to use other ways. Yes they feel, yes they fear, but they deserve the respect of being useful and not just dumped in the ground because some one thought it was better to put them to sleep and burry them instead of using them to the fullest. I’d rather be used then just thrown in some hole. Sounds and looks more like a death pit to me as far as the rescue of rabbits picture and info goes. And while forgotten to you may mean just left to starve in some shit filled pen, forgotten to me means left behind to fend for themselfs and these rabbits HAVE been FORGOTTEN. They are DOMESTIC rabbits not wild rabbits and should be housed and kept that way or used responsibly!

  9. Linda

    And they call this a rescue?? This looks like they should be rescued from this place!
    This is no way to keep rabbits, ferel or otherwise. Give them cages, off the ground, away from their manure, with proper portions of food and hay and water. I would love to turn my barn into a rabbit rescue, I could give these animals the care they need, not tossed into a fenced in yard in the winter to survive the cold. I dont care how many volenteers they have, this is just wrong!!

  10. myhouserabbit Post author

    Linda, I don’t agree with you that the feral rabbits would be better off in cages. They’re social animals, and they’ve obviously already established order among the group so that they coexist peacefully while free. Why cage them? And in terms of keeping them away from their manure- from the photos all the rabbits appear to be clean and the pasture doesn’t appear covered in poop. I imagine the rabbits have established areas where they poop, since they are naturally clean animals. And the volunteers do keep the little feeding stations clean.

    You also seem to imply that the rabbits aren’t being fed the right portions of food. A rabbit’s diet should consist of unlimited fresh hay, water, and greens. This is provided to them in the pasture.

    And finally, they have shelter in their habitat. They’ve dug a warren in the pasture, and they have access to a barn as well.

  11. morgan

    to all the people like Linda and Joanie…you’re all talk! I have no respect for anybody that just mouths off and criticizes other people’s efforts…but too lazy to lift a finger themselves.

    if you are so appalled go adopt them all…now! Oh wait…don’t tell me…you’re busy right? Your TV show is on tonight and you don’t want to miss it…or you’d rather spend your money on starbucks then on feed.


  12. ASALAH


  13. Lee

    The rabbits here are SPAYED & NEUTERED! They are NOT multiplying! I am also a bunny recue mom. Rabbits are OUTDOOR animals and need the room and excersize. They are great indoor pets but sould have room to move and roam and be social! Like any farm animal they need shelter, water, food. Rabbits are perfectly fine in cold climates as long as they have shelter out of the inclement weather & wind. ESPECIALLY if they are FERAL!!! They are not fit to be inside or pets. The buns look pretty healthy and fat to me. I htink some people forget that not every creature wants to live in a crate or strictly indoors and never see the sun! My buns have indoor homes int he winter and outdoor homes in the summer. They are healthy and happy. Stop making assumptions based on a pictuer and read the details. Call the facility and ask questions. What the heck would you do with 400 plus feral animals???

  14. Kelli

    I just wanted to say thank you to the rescue group or individuals who opened their home/farm to bunnies in need…providing a life full of freedom and companionship with other bunnies.
    We should value people who try to make a difference and appreciate their kindness, whether or not it is to your liking or standards. We should focus this negative attention to places that truly need it such as fur, slaughter houses, feed lots, animal testing, bile production, zoos, circuses, etc…not a rescue group or to people trying to help…in stead, suggest alternatives that can make it better for the animals and offer your help!!
    I have lived in countries that have lower my standards in animal welfare and I have learned to appreciate any act of kindness to animals/nature and encourage this kind of behaviour! Also, I have learned that it is better to help rather than show aggression or telling people they are wrong…that will NOT help the animal in trouble or the situation!!!!!
    So, I hope we can learn to help each other in order to save more lives’ and create a better world for our beloved creatures that make it so special!

  15. Sarah

    Bunnies should have never been domesticated. No animal should have to live it’s life in a cage for any period of time. This is the most freedom some bunnies get!

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