Hugh Hefner: Easter’s Bunny Hugger

Iconic pin-ups turned animal activists—the World Famous Barbi Twins usually spend Easter rescuing rabbits.  The bunnies they rescue would otherwise end up euthanized at a shelter or left to their own devices in the wild, until of course, some seasoned predator would be so lucky as to happen upon the truly helpless lagomorphs. Releasing pet rabbits into the wild not only harms the bunnies, but potentially harms the environment.

Hugh_Hefner_Glamourcon_2010The Barbi Twins say that often people don’t have the compassion to spend time learning how to care for rabbits properly, including the need to spay and neuter these animals, which frequently end up in over-populated shelters. The bunnies, as mentioned, are typically euthanized immediately.

Rabbits are also quite fragile. In fact, their skeletons are literally only a small percentage of their weight, relatively speaking. This makes them much more prone to fractures than a puppy or kitten of the same size.

The Barbi Twins ardently oppose buying rabbits as toys for children for Easter, which perhaps millions of people do a year. Hence, the Twins have chosen to stand behind Last Chance for Animal’s Easter Campaign—adopt don’t shop for rabbits as life-long family pets.  They also suggest buying vegan chocolate bunnies instead of the live and fragile bunnies sold during the Easter holiday for kids. And they recommend visiting the website—Los Angeles Rabbit Foundation—for tips on caring for rabbits.

barbi-twins-hugh-hefnerThis Easter the Barbi Twins have decided to recognize their mentor and father figure—Hugh Hefner—for his contribution to rabbit preservation, and we are not talking about the two legged bunnies that live at the mansion. The Barbi Twins reminded me that Mr. Hefner was most influential in helping a subspecies of marsh rabbit elude extinction through a conservation project that he funded, that the subspecies of rabbit was named after him. Yes, the Lower Keys marsh rabbit (Sylvilagus palustris hefneri) was named after Hugh Hefner, the Founder of Playboy, and an entertainment icon in his own right.

In the early 1980s, Hefner, on behalf of Playboy, funded field conservation research aimed at saving this rare subspecies of rabbit. And rabbits are not just important to rabbit enthusiasts—they are critical to ecosystem health all over the world.Marsh_Rabbit Through Hefner, Playboy became one of the first corporate entities to support a wildlife conservation initiative.

Today, Mr. Hefner continues to support animal welfare and conservation programs through the mentorship he provides playmates.  The Barbi Twins give their inaugural celebrity animal welfare award to Hugh Hefner for all the work he has done not just for rabbits, but for Playboy bunnies in their Playboy family like his wife Crystal Harris and Pamela Anderson, themselves, and all the animal welfare campaigns they have been associated with over the years.


Dr. Jordan Schaul’s Bio




Changing Planet

Meet the Author
With training in wildlife ecology, conservation medicine and comparative psychology, Dr. Schaul's contributions to Nat Geo Voices have covered a range of environmental and social topics. He draws particular attention to the plight of imperiled species highlighting issues at the juncture or nexus of sorta situ wildlife conservation and applied animal welfare. Sorta situ conservation practices are comprised of scientific management and stewardship of animal populations ex situ (in captivity / 'in human care') and in situ (free-ranging / 'in nature'). He also has a background in behavior management and training of companion animals and captive wildlife, as well as conservation marketing and digital publicity. Jordan has shared interviews with colleagues and public figures, as well as editorial news content. In addition, he has posted narratives describing his own work, which include the following examples: • Restoration of wood bison to the Interior of Alaska while (While Animal Curator at Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center and courtesy professor at the University of Alaska) • Rehabilitation of orphaned sloth bears exploited for tourists in South Asia (While executive consultant 'in-residence' at the Agra Bear Rescue Center managed by Wildlife SOS) • Censusing small wild cat (e.g. ocelot and margay) populations in the montane cloud forests of Costa Rica for popular publications with 'The Cat Whisperer' Mieshelle Nagelschneider • Evaluating the impact of ecotourism on marine mammal population stability and welfare off the coast of Mexico's Sea of Cortez (With Boston University's marine science program) Jordan was a director on boards of non-profit wildlife conservation organizations serving nations in Africa, North and South America and Southeast Asia. He is also a consultant to a human-wildlife conflict mitigation organization in the Pacific Northwest. Following animal curatorships in Alaska and California, he served as a charter board member of a zoo advocacy and outreach organization and later as its executive director. Jordan was a member of the Communication and Education Commission of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (CEC-IUCN) and the Bear Specialist Group of the IUCN Species Survival Commission (BSG-SSC-IUCN). He has served on the advisory council of the National Wildlife Humane Society and in service to the Bear Taxon Advisory Group of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA Bear TAG). In addition he was an ex officio member of council of the International Association for Bear Research and Management. Contact Email: