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Rabbits - primary assembly

Aims and objectives

To encourage responsible attitudes towards the care and welfare of rabbits.

You will need

Equipment

  • Role-play clothes
  • Toy rabbits for pet shop role-play

Activity sheets

  • Rabbit quiz
  • Pet shop pestering

Teachers' notes

  • Animals' basic needs: Rabbits 

Factsheets

  • The five welfare needs

Images

  • Rabbits with welfare problems - Images
  • Rabbits (to slowly reveal at beginning)

Introduction

  • What animal am I? Slowly reveal the picture of rabbits (see image in Downloads tab). Can they guess what animal this is? Use a show of hands to see how many pupils have a pet rabbit in their family. Talk about the different things the rabbit needs.
  • Play the Rabbit quiz and ask pupils questions from the activity sheet. If they think it is true, they can make ‘rabbit ears’ with their hands. If they think it is false, they fold their arms. Share each of the answers and discuss.

Main issues and problems

  • Role-play a typical scene in a pet shop where the child pesters the parent to buy a rabbit (see activity sheet Pet shop pestering). Choose a pupil to pretend to be the parent and use dressing-up clothes to help them with their role. The teacher pretends to be the child who really wants a rabbit. Role-play going to a shop and seeing a cute rabbit that the child really wants. Demonstrate how a child will pester their parents while in the shop (see help sheet). After each ‘pester’ the ‘adult’ is going to say “no!” (The pupil could hold up a big card with ‘no’ on it to encourage the other pupils to say no too).
  • Explain that sometimes people will buy a cute rabbit, just like the one in the pet shop today, and even with the best intentions some people don’t look after their rabbits. Reveal pictures of rabbits whose welfare needs are not being met (see Images of rabbits with welfare problems) The first two images show unsuitable environments (see notes under ‘Environment’ in teachers’ notes Animals' basic needs: Rabbits) and the third image shows a mother rabbit with lots of kittens (see notes on neutering under ‘Health and welfare’ section in teachers’ notes). Discuss with pupils why the rabbits are not healthy or happy, referring to rabbits’ needs as discussed earlier.
  • Explain to the pupils that sometimes people who own rabbits don’t want them any more and let them go in the wild. Discuss why this isn’t a good idea. Abandoning a rabbit in the wild could make it hard for the rabbit to find the shelter, food and companionship that it needs. (See teacher’s notes Animals’ basic needs: Rabbits for more information.)
  • Tell the pupils that, on average, 400 rabbits a month are rescued, collected or seized by RSPCA inspectors because they are not looked after properly, they are neglected, or treated cruelly, or they are abandoned. Depending on age of the pupils, the teacher or pupils can work out how many rabbits would be collected in a week, etc.

What can we do? 

  • Enlarge the factsheet The five welfare needs to use as a checklist for the things that rabbits need to be healthy and happy. If pupils have their own rabbits, this checklist will help them think about their rabbits’ needs.
  • Watch the happy bunnies video. Ask the pupils to suggest some of the things they have learnt about what rabbits like to do.
  • Hop and stop! Think before you get a rabbit. Some pupils may be interested in owning their own rabbit(s) following the assembly. Encourage them to think responsibly and remind them how long rabbits can live for and what this responsibility entails. Direct them to the RSPCA website for more information on caring for rabbits.
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