Big recognition for tiny S.J. rabbits

Record file photo

The riparian brush rabbit, probably San Joaquin County’s cuddliest endangered species, is getting some much-deserved love from National Geographic.

The magazine includes the rabbit as one of 7,000 species featured on its Photo Ark project, highlighting animals on the brink of extinction. Check out the Photo Ark here.

An Instagram post featuring the brush rabbit had more than 1 million hits as of this morning.

The rabbits, which live only in the San Joaquin River floodplain, are inherently vulnerable to — you guessed it — floods. This fact was demonstrated again this past winter, when rescuers went in by boat to scoop up as many bunnies as possible and get them to safer ground. An unknown number perished.

Patrick Kelly, who runs the Endangered Species Recovery Program at Cal State Stanislaus and is one of the leading authorities on the local rabbits, was excited to see them get worldwide attention, according to a press release from the university.

“When I was a small child reading National Geographic at my granduncle’s house in Galway City in the west of Ireland, I never dreamed that someday I would be working with a National Geographic photographer on a project,” he said.

Patrick Kelly. Record file photo

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