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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Gainesville locals play B-I-N-G-O for Bunnies at Blackadder Brewing Company

The event raised funds for the Gainesville Rabbit Rescue's rabbit Hercules

Bean-filled B-I-N-G-O cards and Belgium-inspired beer were sprawled across the tables at the Blackadder Brewing Company. Participants of the charity event found themselves completely enthralled by the energy of the game and the charm of the Gainesville Rabbit Rescue’s bunnies.

The Blackadder Brewing Company, a small family-owned brewery, is renowned for its generosity and approachability. Chris and Sissy Hart, the husband and wife pair, have been co-owners for almost two decades now.

Every month the Blackadder Brewing Company chooses a local charity to give back to and host B-I-N-G-O nights with all proceeds raised given to the chosen cause. This month, they chose to support the Gainesville Rabbit Rescue’s mission of the rescue, rehabilitation and adoption of local bunnies.

The bar was filled to the brim with friends and followers of the Gainesville Rabbit Rescue on B-I-N-G-O night on Sept. 21. Many volunteers and employees sat alongside their furry friends in strollers. Some had close connections to the cause, while others learned about the organization through the event. All had a desire to support the rabbit rescue.

The Gainesville Rabbit Rescue provides home and support to rabbits from different situations in their Williston facility, about half an hour outside of Gainesville. They house close to 60 bunnies at the rescue and give many of them medical attention with the help of local veterinarians.

Many of their rabbits come from hoarding situations or were found dumped in the wild. The most common situation they face are rabbits from owners who surrender them after deciding they do not want their pet anymore. Typically, most surrenders occur a couple months after Easter and some a couple months after Christmas. 

Catesby Willis, a 28-year-old volunteer, has seen many cases of abandoned rabbits over her seven years working with the Gainesville Rabbit Rescue. Willis has worked her way up the ranks by volunteering consistently. She now facilitates all adoption and foster applications.

Willis postulates the reason behind the organization’s growing population of rescued rabbits is a lack of education.

“[Owners] they don't know what to do. They think they see all these wild bunnies outside where in Florida we have the marsh rabbits we have the wild cottontails they're like oh, they'll be fine,” Willis said. “They can't fend for themselves in the wild and people just keep dumping them.” 

The Gainesville Rabbit Rescue works to educate people at adoption events and festivals about how to be successful rabbit owners. They stress the importance of spaying and neutering for health issues. After three to six months, rabbits become more aggressive and do not want to be handled because of hormones, which leads people to dump them. 

“What we try to do is educate people that already have rabbits and they need help on how to help them live their best long happy lives,” Willis said. “People just don't quite understand rabbits and how great of pets they can be. They just need proper care.”

The rescue offers several ways for people to get involved and help their mission. The first is hands-on volunteer work which includes deep cleaning and tending to the rabbits’ spaces. The second option is spending time with the rabbits and watching as they play outside.

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“We're getting a lot of student volunteers where they bring their homework,” Willis said. “They'll get rabbits out to play and exercise in the yard and then they'll just sit outside and do their homework and let them play.”

For those interested and able to make a larger commitment, the Gainesville Rabbit Rescue offers fostering and adoption services. They provide owners with every supply they will need, excluding the fresh greens.

The B-I-N-G-O fundraiser collaboration between Blackadder Brewing Company and the Gainesville Rabbit Rescue was their second together. This year’s fundraiser event raised funds for one of their rabbit’s medical care. 

Hercules was abandoned outside and his body was deteriorating. He cannot move so the rescuers are supporting him with hours of physical therapy and massages, acupuncture and laser therapy to help him move. 

“He's a happy bunny like he has a will for life,” Willis said. “He tries very, very hard to hop and if he can't hop he drags himself to where he wants to go, but he's just an absolute love.”

In addition to their monthly B-I-N-G-O events, Blackadder hosts weekly trivia game nights and occasional live music shows and themed trivia nights. The brewery has worked to create a reputation for making customers feel welcomed and a part of the Blackadder family. Crissy Conner, a 35-year-old bartender and nurse, is one of the many customer-turned employees of Blackadder. 

“They're like one of the best kept secrets honestly,” Conner said. “They know your beer choice before you even have to say it. Even if you don't work here.”

The outdoor seating option allows for Blackadder to be a hotspot for local food trucks to frequent. A fan favorite is the Twisted Tikka, an authentic vegan Indian traveling food truck. Balaji and Chaitali Balaraman, 40-year-old husband and wife owners of the Twisted Tikka food truck, have been serving and pleasing consumers for over six years. Their menu incorporates inspiration from various cuisines into their genuine Indian flavors.

“If you taste our chicken butter masala and you go back to India and taste chicken butter masala, it will be the same,” Balaji Balaraman said. “There won't be a difference.”

Contact Molly Seghi at Follow her on Twitter @molly_seghi.

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Molly Seghi

Molly Seghi is a first-year journalism major at UF and a Fall 2023 Avenue Reporter. When not writing or journaling, she can be found at a live music event or working on her podcast “An Aural Account.”

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