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A Plush Toy Named Flat Bonnie Helps Save Pet Rabbits

This handmade plush by Yukari spreads the message that rabbits in shelters need homes, and partial sales of the toy are donated to various rabbit and small animal rescues.

Rebecca Stout
Posted: February 11, 2014, 4:05 p.m. EST

rabbit beside Flat Bonnie characters
© Rick of FlatBonnie
Pinky, who survived a dog attack, now lives happily with Flat Bonnie's creator.

Would you like to have a bunny in your life but can’t? Perhaps you are allergic, don’t have the finances, don’t have the proper home setting, aren’t ready yet or just are not sure. Would you like to help animals in shelters or educate others about the great need for adoption and do it in a fun way? Well then, something fitting has just hopped down the bunny trail for you — Flat Bonnie.

Yukari is the creator of Flat Bonnie. She grew up in Japan and now resides in Los Angeles. She always loved stuffed animals and bunnies, and the unification of these two loves led to the creation of Flat Bonnie. What ignited the brilliant idea? A little, white bunny who entered her life that she named Go-Go.

Flat Bonnie is a character and plush toy that Yukari created in March of 2011 to educate the public about the need for bunny adoptions. "My real bunny, Go-Go , was white and liked to get real flat on the floor,” Yukari said. "My other bunny's name is Bon-Bon. I call her Bonnie Bon-Bon. So when I made the first white bunny plush, I called her Flat Bonnie. White rabbits are the hardest for rescues to adopt out. Flat Bonnie represents all the bunnies waiting for their forever homes.”

Go-Go received his name because he loved running and craved speed. Bon-Bon was named because she is a round, brown bunny. She is very sassy and sometimes bossy, but she is also caring and nice. Sadly, Go-Go passed last year, but Yukari got her 10-year-old surviving bunny a friend named Pinky. Pinky was adopted from a high-kill shelter. No one wanted to adopt him because he had open wounds from surviving a dog attack. Yukari said he is fully recovered today and loves his new home, and especially Bon-Bon. Pinky represents the very type of bunny that Flat Bonnie seeks to help.

Yukari said the company basically consists of just her. She hand-makes each flattie plush herself out of animal-safe materials and is able to customize them. She does have some occasional help. "I have someone who helps me with artwork, events, photography and online stuff. Neither of us was very involved with rescues before Flat Bonnie. Our regular jobs are in fashion and music.”

The small, flat stuffie spreads the word in a clever way that large numbers of pet rabbits need homes, and also helps raise funds for bunny shelters. A few of the rescues that have benefited from Flat Bonnie are House Rabbit Society, Bunnyluv Rabbit Resource Center, Orange County Cavy Haven and Tranquility Trail Animal Sanctuary.

Kim Brinkley of the Bunnyluv RRC sings praises about Flat Bonnie and its support of shelters. "They donate items to us regularly for us to sell in our shelter store, donate a percentage of their sales to us about one month a year, donate items for our BunnyLuv Fest fundraiser auction, have a table at our fundraiser where they sell their items and donate a portion of those sales to us, and have designed and donated a number of different T-shirts to us to sell.” She said this helps BunnyLuv RRC’s mission in rescuing rabbits from the local municipal shelters when they become red listed (put on the euthanasia list) and seeking forever homes for them.

But Flat Bonnie does not stop there. Over time Yukari has expanded her efforts by creating other characters and friends, which have helped many other types of small animal rescues, including those for guinea pigs, hedgehogs and chinchillas. She has also worked with rescues and sanctuaries that help dogs, cats, elephants, tigers and even bears. Yukari describes how far-reaching Flat Bonnie is, "I mostly work with rescues in the United States, but have helped some in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and Asia.”

Flat Bonnie characters
© Rick of FlatBonnie
Flat Bonnie (left) started it all. Today, other small animal pets and even exotics are part of Flat Bonnie's family.

In addition to some shelter and animal events, you might find Flat Bonnie at toy and art conventions, including Comic-Con, DesignerCon, WonderCon and Anime Expo. You can also see Flat Bonnie and her Flattie friend QT the Hedgehog in a Google Nexus commercial. And you can always find Flat Bonnie at its website and Facebook page, which are regularly updated as to what events Flat Bonnie will attend.

Kelly Ames is the executive director and co-founder of the Tranquility Trail Animal Sanctuary, which is the largest domestic rabbit rescue in Arizona. "Flat Bonnie is an amazing part of the rescue community,” Ames said. "They raise awareness on a daily basis about the importance of adopting, and provide much-needed funds to rescues throughout the United States. They are a wonderful organization that has made a very positive impact on the rescue community.”

Michiko Vartanian, CEO of Orange County Cavy Haven, which rescues, rehabilitates and rehomes guinea pigs in Orange County, Los Angeles County and Riverside County, said Flat Bonnie has supported their work for a long time. "She has also donated to our annual Pignic fundraiser by donating items for the silent auction, and also showing up and doing a Guinea Poo scavenger hunt, where we announce to the visitors that the first 12 to 15 people who spot Flat Bonnie Caretaker will receive a free Guinea Poo,” Vartanian said. "Her items are always so popular, and this helps raise funds and fun, because the visitors love it.”

Vartanian has great respect for what Yukari and Flat Bonnie do to spread the word about adoption. "I find her products and her message to be innovative, fun and important,” she said. She added that as far as any other creative ideas that Yukari might come up with, she would love to partner with Flat Bonnie in those future endeavors.

Flat Bonnie’s future is limited only by imagination. An example of that imagination can be seen in the wonderful animation Yukari created to introduce Flat Bonnie and her friends, which can be seen on YouTube. She would love to do a cartoon of Flat Bonnie and her friends going on adventures to help spread the adoption message.

"I also want people to know that bunnies are not toys and that caring for a real bun is a lot of work and a long-term commitment,” Yukari said. Flat Bonnie helps in the effort to give abandoned bunnies a second chance in life, and that makes her a true animal champion!

For more articles about small animal champions, click here>>

Posted: February 11, 2014, 4:05 p.m. EST


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