Hong Kong pet rabbits enjoy bunny resort while owners away

Jan 19, 2023, 12:39 PM | Updated: Jan 23, 2023, 6:14 am
A staff member feeds a rabbit at the Bunny Style Hotel in Hong Kong, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023. With...

A staff member feeds a rabbit at the Bunny Style Hotel in Hong Kong, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023. With the lifting of COVID restrictions, Hong Kongers are traveling again and some of those who keep rabbits at pets are booking them into a rabbit resort where they are fed, exercised and pampered with spa treatments. The Lunar New Year of the Rabbit is shining a particular spotlight on the popularity of the animals in the crowded city of tiny apartments. (AP Photo/Anthony Kwan)

(AP Photo/Anthony Kwan)

              A rabbit enjoys its playtime at the Bunny Style Hotel in Hong Kong, Wednesday Jan. 18, 2023. With the lifting of COVID restrictions, Hong Kongers are traveling again and some of those who keep rabbits at pets are booking them into a rabbit resort where they are fed, exercised and pampered with spa treatments. The Lunar New Year of the Rabbit is shining a particular spotlight on the popularity of the animals in the crowded city of tiny apartments. (AP Photo/Anthony Kwan)
            
              Co-founder Donna Li grooms a rabbit at the Bunny Style Hotel in Hong Kong, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023. With the lifting of COVID restrictions, Hong Kongers are traveling again and some of those who keep rabbits at pets are booking them into a rabbit resort where they are fed, exercised and pampered with spa treatments. The Lunar New Year of the Rabbit is shining a particular spotlight on the popularity of the animals in the crowded city of tiny apartments. (AP Photo/Anthony Kwan)
            
              An employee puts a rabbit in a carrier at the Bunny Style Hotel in Hong Kong, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023. With the lifting of COVID restrictions, Hong Kongers are traveling again and some of those who keep rabbits at pets are booking them into a rabbit resort where they are fed, exercised and pampered with spa treatments. The Lunar New Year of the Rabbit is shining a particular spotlight on the popularity of the animals in the crowded city of tiny apartments. (AP Photo/Anthony Kwan)
            
              A staff member takes a photo of a cage at the Bunny Style Hotel in Hong Kong, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023. With the lifting of COVID restrictions, Hong Kongers are traveling again and some of those who keep rabbits at pets are booking them into a rabbit resort where they are fed, exercised and pampered with spa treatments. The Lunar New Year of the Rabbit is shining a particular spotlight on the popularity of the animals in the crowded city of tiny apartments. (AP Photo/Anthony Kwan)
            
              A staff member cleans cages at the Bunny Style Hotel in Hong Kong, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023. With the lifting of COVID restrictions, Hong Kongers are traveling again and some of those who keep rabbits at pets are booking them into a rabbit resort where they are fed, exercised and pampered with spa treatments. The Lunar New Year of the Rabbit is shining a particular spotlight on the popularity of the animals in the crowded city of tiny apartments. (AP Photo/Anthony Kwan)
            
              Staff members unload the rabbit of an arriving customer at the Bunny Style Hotel in Hong Kong, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023. With the lifting of COVID restrictions, Hong Kongers are traveling again and some of those who keep rabbits at pets are booking them into a rabbit resort where they are fed, exercised and pampered with spa treatments. The Lunar New Year of the Rabbit is shining a particular spotlight on the popularity of the animals in the crowded city of tiny apartments. (AP Photo/Anthony Kwan)
            
              Photographs of rabbit residents are displayed at the Bunny Style Hotel in Hong Kong, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023. With the lifting of COVID restrictions, Hong Kongers are traveling again and some of those who keep rabbits at pets are booking them into a rabbit resort where they are fed, exercised and pampered with spa treatments. The Lunar New Year of the Rabbit is shining a particular spotlight on the popularity of the animals in the crowded city of tiny apartments. (AP Photo/Anthony Kwan)
            
              Co-founder Donna Li grooms a rabbit at the Bunny Style Hotel in Hong Kong, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023. With the lifting of COVID restrictions, Hong Kongers are traveling again and some of those who keep rabbits at pets are booking them into a rabbit resort where they are fed, exercised and pampered with spa treatments. The Lunar New Year of the Rabbit is shining a particular spotlight on the popularity of the animals in the crowded city of tiny apartments. (AP Photo/Anthony Kwan)
            
              A rabbit grass cake is prepared at the Bunny Style Hotel in Hong Kong, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023. With the lifting of COVID restrictions, Hong Kongers are traveling again and some of those who keep rabbits at pets are booking them into a rabbit resort where they are fed, exercised and pampered with spa treatments. The Lunar New Year of the Rabbit is shining a particular spotlight on the popularity of the animals in the crowded city of tiny apartments. (AP Photo/Anthony Kwan)
            
              Co-founder Donna Li makes a rabbit grass cake at the Bunny Style Hotel in Hong Kong, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023. With the lifting of COVID restrictions, Hong Kongers are traveling again and some of those who keep rabbits at pets are booking them into a rabbit resort where they are fed, exercised and pampered with spa treatments. The Lunar New Year of the Rabbit is shining a particular spotlight on the popularity of the animals in the crowded city of tiny apartments. (AP Photo/Anthony Kwan)
            
              Co-founder Donna Li gives a manicure to a rabbit at the Bunny Style Hotel in Hong Kong, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023. With the lifting of COVID restrictions, Hong Kongers are traveling again and some of those who keep rabbits at pets are booking them into a rabbit resort where they are fed, exercised and pampered with spa treatments. The Lunar New Year of the Rabbit is shining a particular spotlight on the popularity of the animals in the crowded city of tiny apartments. (AP Photo/Anthony Kwan)
            
              A staff member pets a rabbit at the Bunny Style Hotel in Hong Kong, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023. With the lifting of COVID restrictions, Hong Kongers are traveling again and some of those who keep rabbits at pets are booking them into a rabbit resort where they are fed, exercised and pampered with spa treatments. The Lunar New Year of the Rabbit is shining a particular spotlight on the popularity of the animals in the crowded city of tiny apartments. (AP Photo/Anthony Kwan)
            
              A staff member cleans the play area at the Bunny Style Hotel in Hong Kong, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023. With the lifting of COVID restrictions, Hong Kongers are traveling again and some of those who keep rabbits at pets are booking them into a rabbit resort where they are fed, exercised and pampered with spa treatments. The Lunar New Year of the Rabbit is shining a particular spotlight on the popularity of the animals in the crowded city of tiny apartments. (AP Photo/Anthony Kwan)
            
              Co-founder Donna Li grooms a rabbit at the Bunny Style Hotel in Hong Kong, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023. With the lifting of COVID restrictions, Hong Kongers are traveling again and some of those who keep rabbits at pets are booking them into a rabbit resort where they are fed, exercised and pampered with spa treatments. The Lunar New Year of the Rabbit is shining a particular spotlight on the popularity of the animals in the crowded city of tiny apartments. (AP Photo/Anthony Kwan)
            
              A staff member feeds a rabbit at the Bunny Style Hotel in Hong Kong, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023. With the lifting of COVID restrictions, Hong Kongers are traveling again and some of those who keep rabbits at pets are booking them into a rabbit resort where they are fed, exercised and pampered with spa treatments. The Lunar New Year of the Rabbit is shining a particular spotlight on the popularity of the animals in the crowded city of tiny apartments. (AP Photo/Anthony Kwan)

HONG KONG (AP) — Rabbits scamper around a play area in a climate-controlled building in suburban Hong Kong, some climbing a castle made of wood while others explore a cotton tunnel.

In one of the world’s most densely populated cities, where most apartments range from small to miniscule, rabbits are popular pets.

And when their owners are away, there are rabbit lovers ready to look after their lonely pets at Bunny Style, a luxury rabbit resort.

That’s especially evident this month, as the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions in Hong Kong is spurring a surge in travel for the Lunar New Year to welcome the Year of the Rabbit.

Donna Li, the owner of Bunny Style, said she’s fully booked for the holiday and keeps her charges happy with regular exercise, parties, spa treatments and lots of hay.

“We aim to provide a secure environment,” Li said.

Li, who has two pet rabbits of her own, set up Bunny Style in June, starting with just a playroom offering space to hop and relief from Hong Kong’s hot, humid weather.

“To begin with, my idea was mainly about setting up a safe indoor play space with a suitable temperature for rabbits,” Li said.

As the government began lifting COVID-19 restrictions in September, Li sensed a need and swiftly set up boarding facilities. They were full over Christmas and Li has already begun taking bookings for Easter.

With 15 rabbits, Li and her staff will be busy over the holiday, the most important in the Chinese calendar. Apart from feeding — some owners order special vegetable cakes in advance — there are hair-brushing, nail trimming and exercising to be managed.

“I think rabbits understand what people say. They can sense whether we are being nice to them and look after them well,” Li said. “And so when I look after them, I talk to them a lot, telling them how beautiful and cute they are.”

A livestream and video clips are also provided, “so we knew that our rabbit was out actively hopping and enjoying itself,” said Rainbow Li, who found Bunny Style on the internet and boarded her rabbit while she and her partner traveled over Christmas.

Bunny Style charges about $15 per night, including half an hour of supervised play time. Beauty treatments and special menu items are extra.

The animals’ popularity in Hong Kong has inevitably led to some owners finding they’ve bit off more than they can chew. For that, there are shelters such as Tolobunny, set up in 2015 and dedicated to finding new homes for abandoned rabbits, often at public adoption events.

Spokesperson Bridget Ng is already anticipating a surge of calls to the shelter’s 24-hour rescue hotline in the months after the new year. Already, its volunteers are temporarily housing 42 rabbits given up by their owners.

“Our observation is that throughout the year, especially at festive holidays like Valentine’s Day, Easter or Christmas, there are more people who want to keep rabbits, but after a few months, there will be more abandoned rabbits,” Ng said.

Homeless dogs and cats still get more care, but “I hope there will be more attention and resources for all kinds of abandoned animals,” founder Winky Cheng said.

___

This story has been corrected to show that rabbits were provided with hay, not carrots.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Hong Kong pet rabbits enjoy bunny resort while owners away