VIRGINIA BEACH — Weighing in at more than 25 pounds, he’s earned celebrity status as the largest bunny in America.
Now Lord Roland Watson Beldon Maxwell VIII, also known as Junior, is hitting the campaign trail in his run for the 2020 presidency.
Angela ‘Max’ Maxwell, director and founder of The Bunny Hutch Boutique & CLIMATES Exotic Animal Rescue, said she joked about Junior running for president after discussing with friends how many write-in votes Mickey Mouse receives during election years.
But with Junior’s celebrity status, the joke soon turned into a full-blown social media campaign.
Maxwell said once she closes the animal shelter arm of her business by the end of the year, she and Junior will set out in a 40-foot bus to cover ground from New York to California.
“Besides going to visit friends, and while we we’re in different places across the United States, we’re going to do free programs for rescues and educate the public about exotic pet ownership,” she said.
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While the exotic pet industry continues to grow, Maxwell said the “laws on buying, selling and ownership have not caught up in the slightest.”
Hence, Junior’s mission on the campaign trail to bring awareness about the unique and often difficult care required to own an exotic pet.
Once the runt of his litter and a breed of rabbit known as Continental Giants, Junior is still growing but Maxwell said he probably won’t make it to weigh more than his father, who at more than 50 pounds and 4-foot-3 inches, is the Guinness Book of World Record’s longest bunny.
And, contrary to popular practices, Maxwell said bunnies are not ideal as starter pets.
“Rarely spayed or neutered, often purchased as gifts, [rabbits] do not tolerate heat well and are terrible pets for young children — and require a great deal of care,” she said. “Seventy-five to 85 percent of female rabbits die of ovarian cancer by ages 3 to 5.”
For Maxwell, a combat veteran, Junior is a service pet and won’t be leaving her side anytime soon.
Over the last seven years, Maxwell and her team of volunteers have rescued more than 220 unique animals like the rat snakes, tarantulas, and red foxes who wouldn’t quite fit in at your average city-funded shelters.
Their online boutique will stay open, but before the pair start on their journey, all the other animals currently sheltered at The Bunny Hutch including an 8-foot snake, are looking for new homes.
To learn about The Bunny Hutch Boutique and their adoptable animals, or to follow Junior on the campaign trail, click here.