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Coney Island Rabbit

This runaway rabbit survived 1-1/2 years and two winters under the Coney Island Boardwalk before being rescued on May 27. Photo © Tatyana Leonova


Coney Island was named Conyne Eylandt –Rabbit Island– by the Dutch after the wild rabbits that lived here in the 17th century, but for the past 1-1/2 years the only coney left in Coney has been a Californian breed of domestic rabbit living under the boardwalk. A few days ago ATZ received news of its capture from William Leung, whose previous rescue of a rabbit he would name Steeplechase after Coney’s famed park was featured in “Coney Island Bunny Rescued After 21 Days on The Run” (January 18, 2014).

The second bunny who ran off during the bulldozing of the Coney Island Community Garden was rescued on May 27 after surviving for 16 months and two winters under the Coney Island Boardwalk! It’s an amazing story of the compassion and tenacity of both William and Tatyana Leonova, a caretaker of the Boardwalk’s feral cats, who fed the rabbit vegetables as well as the dry food on which it managed to survive through the winters.

Rabbit Trio

William Leung’s Pet Rabbit Trio Duchess, Chad, and Steeplechase, who was rescued in Coney Island in 2014. Photo © Tracy Nuzzo

“It’s been almost a year and half now since Steeplechase was caught and has been living with me,” writes William. “She has bonded with my two little ones as seen in a pic taken a month ago, from left to right: Duchess, Chad, and Steeplechase. But there is another story to tell about Steeplechase’s siblings.” Since the garden was bulldozed in December 2013, William heard there were up to three rabbits in the garden from the time they were babies. In the summer of 2014 he learned of a rabbit sighting in the same general area where Steeplechase was caught and made the trip from his Queens home to investigate.

“But this time of the summer, the grass and brushes were as tall as me, and as I peered through to where the garden used to be, there was no way anything could be seen,” William recalls. “But as luck or fate would have it, Tatyana Leonova, one of the dedicated feral cat care givers passed by and got curious about me poking at the fence. She told me about the sighting of a rabbit running around and said she had been trying to feed it, but didn’t see the rabbit regularly. I asked her if there was a way to trap the rabbit, if they do I will take it.” Tatyana agreed, but as the months passed and winter came to the boardwalk, there was no word.

Coney Island Rabbit

Runaway rabbit dining on vegetables under the Coney Island Boardwalk. Photo © Tatyana Leonova

“When I reached out to Tatyana she said they had not been able to catch the rabbit so I made a trip out in January of 2015 to make an attempt. As soon as food was put down he was in the box eating, he was so hungry in winter cause there was no grass to eat. But as I pulled up the simple trap I had, the rabbit jumped right out and never came back out again.”

“A few more months passed by before an opportunity in between jobs allowed me two weeks off and I started to make attempts to catch the rabbit again. The first day I was able to get it within netting range but I made the mistake of trying to catch it by lifting it up around it instead of over it. Long story short, the net wasn’t big enough and wasn’t positioned right. The net bent under the weight and it got away again. On the second time, I did not see the rabbit.”

“On the third time I went out there, the rabbit was lounging around but out of reach so I decided to set up a live trap. The rabbit was hanging out in an area now that was finally big enough to fit a large size trap through the fence and under a walkway but he didn’t go in to eat the food. So as my vacation ended, I met with the cat caretaker and asked her to help by keep putting food into the the trap so the rabbit would go in to eat from inside and catch it in the act and manually pop the trap.”

Coney Island Rabbit

Coney Island Rabbit finally captured in trap after many failedattempts. Photo © Tatyana Leonova

“After 5 days and still no luck, Tatyana was getting worried as she thought the rabbit seemed sluggish and was sick but there was nothing I could do, as I was out of ideas. But the very next day, on Wednesday night the 27th of May, I got a series of panicked calls that she had caught the rabbit but couldn’t get the trap out thru the fence.” William drove to Coney Island as soon as he could to fish the trap out.

At home, he fenced off the rescued bunny, which has a severe ear mite infestation, from his other rabbits. “Of course, my rabbits were curious, but the first to show interest was Steeplechase! She looked back at me as if to say, what’s this all about? I cannot be sure if she can remember her sibling after a year and half apart, or if that rabbit was even a sibling, though they are both the same breed.”

Coney Island Rabbit

Natalie the Coney Island Rabbit’s first trip to the vet. Photo © William Leung

The next day he met with a rabbit rescue volunteer to get a dose of medicine for the ear mites. “As I didn’t want to handle it too much and infest my rabbits, I waited until Saturday, the vet visiting day, to find out if it was a girl or boy,” says William. “And it’s a girl! I named her Natalie, after Nathan’s hot dogs. The vet couldn’t do a full exam as she was still not used to human touch so for now she is getting some R & R and her future is hopefully to join my warren but my rabbits have the final say.”

Related Posts on ATZ…

May 29, 2015: Pet Day in Coney Island Offers Costume Contest, Rides on Wonder Wheel

January 8, 2014: Bunny Returns to Bulldozed Coney Island Garden, Kitten Euthanized

September 19, 2013: Photo of the Day: Coney Island Parakeets Go for a Walk

April 1, 2013: Sea Rabbits Swim Ashore in Coney Island, Up For Adoption

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Coney Island Always

Window detail at Coney Island Always, West 12th St, Coney Island. Photo © Tricia Vita

The famed life-size dancing doll “Miss Coney Island” and the miniature animated rides of “Coney Island Always” are getting spruced up today in anticipation of Coney Island’s official Opening Day. Palm Sunday is just two weeks away on March 29th.

Window washing and replacement of some of the novel items on display are currently underway. The big news is that one of Miss Coney’s dancing cats is retiring and a dancing white rabbit doll is getting the spot. This means that Miss Coney Island will have possibly the only coney in Coney! Coney Island was of course named Conyne Eylandt –Rabbit Island– by the Dutch after the wild rabbits that lived here in the 17th century.

These whimsical, independently owned amusements cost only 25 cents each to enjoy and along with games of skill such as Skin the Wire and Feed the Clown are located on West 12th Street beneath Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park. If you would like to spend the summer with Miss Coney Island and her friends, games operators are needed for the 2015 season. Apply in person or tweet @MissConeyIsland.

Miss Coney Island

Coney Island Always, Miss Coney Island, and Games of Skill on West 12th Street. Photo © Tricia Vita

UPDATE…

Related posts on ATZ…

April 6, 2014: Photo of the Day: Miss Coney Island’s Dancing Cat

April 5, 2014: Photo Album: A Solitary Evening Stroll in Coney Island

September 30, 2012: Photo of the Day: Last Dance With Miss Coney Island

April 27, 2012: The Dancing Doll “Miss Coney Island” Speaks

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Steeplechase the Coney Island Bunny

Marcie Frishberg of NYC Metro Rabbit Rescue demonstrates how to pet Steeplechase the Coney Island Bunny at Petco in Union Square. March 15, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita

The Coney Island “coney” named Steeplechase made her Broadway debut at Union Square Petco on Saturday, where rescue group NYC Metro Rabbit Rescue has an adoption center. There are 4 rabbits that reside there but it was Steeplechase’s first appearance. The refugee from the bulldozed Coney Island Community Garden was rescued by William Leung and fellow volunteers in January after 21 days on the run. Since then, Steeplechase has received medical care and been spayed, and is now being fostered by Leung, who already has four companion rabbits at his home in Queens.

Steeple Chase the Coney Island Bunny

Steeplechase the Coney Island Bunny at NYC Metro Rabbit Rescue adoption center in Union Square Petco. March 15, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita

ATZ asked Leung how the Coney Island rabbit is getting along with the other bunnies. “She is still a little shy, but loves attention. She has met my rabbits,” he said. “She was eager to make friends but my female rabbits were jealous and don’t like her. My little boy Chad is smitten with her and would dance for her whenever he sees her through the pens. His current girlfriend Duchess knows that and tries to bite her whenever she sees her.”

Rabbits dance for each other?

“They binky. When he sees her, he binkies all over the place,” explains Leung.

Binky? Okay, so we had to look up the word! Here’s some Bunny Binky Action courtesy of YouTube user Kate Midkiff…

Coney Island was named Conyne Eylandt –Rabbit Island– by the Dutch after the wild rabbits that lived here in the 17th century. But Steeplechase, a white bunny with black ears, is a Californian breed of domestic rabbit and had lived her entire life outdoors in the boardwalk garden and surrounding area until this year.

Steeplechase’s favorite place in Leung’s apartment, which she has the run of at night, is his walk-in closet. The rest of the time she has her own room. “She is very curious and eager to explore,” says Leung. “She likes to climb and jump into things, but if you tell her once not to go somewhere, she actually gets it and won’t go there again, so she is one smart cookie. She is also very good with litter box skill, I mean I have never seen a bun this clean. Not only is she 100% in the litter box, she only uses one corner.”

Union Sqaure Petco NYC Metro Rabbit Rescue

Petco Union Square Manager Josh Axelrod presenting a check for $2240.79 from the Petco Foundation to NYC Metro Rabbit Rescue’s Marcie Frishberg. March 15, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita

When ATZ visited on Saturday, Josh Axelrod, the longtime manager of the Union Square store, happened to come by to give a check for $2240.79 from the Petco Foundation to NY Metro Rabbit’s Marcie Frishberg. Axelrod said that $1000 came from a Petco-sponsored contest won by Union Square staff and the balance was raised from customer donations at the checkout counter. The Petco Foundation donates about $15 million a year to help more than 8,000 local animal welfare groups across the country. Union Square Petco also hosts Kitty Kind, where we adopted our cat Talulah about two years ago. On Saturday, Long Island Bulldog Rescue also had a booth and the ASPCA’s adoption van was parked outside.

NYC Metro Rabbit Rescue is an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization dedicated to rescuing abandoned New York City rabbits and finding them permanent indoor homes. Their website features a plethora of info, from a documentary on what it’s like to live with a companion rabbit to articles on their care and behavior. In addition to Union Square Petco, the group has rabbit adoption locations at the Petco on Lexington Avenue and 86th Street and the City’s Center for Animal Care and Control (ACC) on 110th Street at 2nd Avenue. The group is a satellite of Rabbit Rescue and Rehab, which is the downstate NY chapter of the House Rabbit Society.

NYC Metro Rabbit

NYC Metro Rabbit, the NYC Satellite of Rabbit Rescue and Rehab, at Petco in Union Square. March 15, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita

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Related Posts on ATZ…

January 18, 2014: Coney Island Bunny Rescued After 21 Days on The Run

September 19, 2013: Photo of the Day: Coney Island Parakeets Go for a Walk

June 17, 2013: Photo of the Day: Paquito the Chihuahua in Coney Island

April 1, 2013: Sea Rabbits Swim Ashore in Coney Island, Up For Adoption

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Coney Island Bunny

Steeplechase, Coney Island Bunny Rescued after 21 Days on the Run. January 26, 2014. Photo © Jozefa Cheman

Steeplechase, the Coney Island “coney” rescued after 21 days on the run, posed for her first official photo today. Want to “Save Coney” and give Steeplechase the bunny a home? This refugee from the bulldozed Coney Island Community Garden will be up for adoption after she is spayed next week.

William Leung, a volunteer with Rabbit Rescue and Rehab successfully “netted” the rabbit, whom he named Steeplechase, on January 18th after ten days of trying to befriend her with bananas and other treats.

“She is scheduled to be spayed next Wednesday,” said Leung, who visited the shy bunny today at New York City’s Animal Care and Control. Rabbit Rescue and Rehab, the New York City chapter of the House Rabbit Society, is the primary bunny rescue group that works with ACC. “Our volunteers go there every day to feed the rabbits,” Leung said.

A list of bunnies up for adoption in New York City is on the group’s petfinder page. Email nyc.metro.rabbits@gmail.com if you are interested in adopting Steeplechase.

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Related Posts on ATZ…

January 18, 2014: Coney Island Bunny Rescued After 21 Days on The Run

January 8, 2014: Bunny Returns to Bulldozed Coney Island Garden, Kitten Euthanized

December 10, 2013: Update on Coney Island Cat ‘Snow Coney’ & His Family

April 1, 2013: Sea Rabbits Swim Ashore in Coney Island, Up For Adoption

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Rabbit Rescue

Runaway Bunny Netted in Coney Island by William Leung of Rabbit Rescue and Rehab. January 18, 2014

The runaway bunny from the bulldozed Coney Island Community Garden was finally rescued today after 21 days surviving on its own. “Just caught it, here is a bunny ball!” said William Leung in a text message with an accompanying photo at 4pm on Saturday. He named the rabbit Steeplechase, after the famous amusement park.

Coney Island was of course named Conyne Eylandt –Rabbit Island– by the Dutch after the wild rabbits that lived here in the 17th century. But this white bunny with black ears is a Californian breed of domestic rabbit and has lived her entire life outdoors in the boardwalk garden. “It’s a girl, 7.8 lbs, all those carrots!” Leung said. After the rabbit ran off when the garden was bulldozed by developer iStar on December 28, she was seen intermittently, usually after dark.

Leung, a volunteer with Rabbit Rescue and Rehab, the New York City chapter of the House Rabbit Society, has spent the last 10 days trying to catch the elusive bunny with the help of gardener Carolyn McCrory “I’m exhausted,” he said when ATZ phoned on Saturday morning to ask how it was going. The Queens resident has been traveling once or twice daily from Astoria to Coney Island to leave food, water and shelter in an attempt to befriend and net the rabbit before the bitter cold temps return. Fellow rabbit owner Mindy Jackson also helped to feed the rabbit during the ten day ordeal.

Coney Island Bunny

Coney Island Bunny hiding out. January 16, 2013. Photo © William Leung

If you’re wondering How to Catch a Stray Bunny, Rabbit Rescue and Rehab says it may take several attempts before the bunny is comfortable enough to let you anywhere near him. Among the suggestions: “Sit or lie down and have carrots and alfalfa hay and banana on hand. Do not overfeed the bunny and do not leave these treat items behind for him—you want him to crave these special foods and you want him to associate them with only you. You also do not want him to gorge on them and thus not be interested when you return to try to catch him again.”

While the banana worked like a charm with another bunny, the Coney Island coney was Leung’s most difficult rescue yet, he says. First of all, the rabbit kept returning to its former home in the bulldozed garden but the site managers for amphitheater developer iStar Financial would not allow Leung access to the site, claiming liability issues. People who came to feed the feral cats inadvertently upset his plan to herd the bunny when they cut holes in the mesh fence for the cats, which the bunny also used to escape. After neighbors harassed him on Thursday, Leung grew increasingly frustrated with the situation, but said he would go out again this weekend. Luckily, he was successful today.

Rabbit Rescue and Rehab is an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization whose primary goals are to rescue abandoned rabbits and find permanent indoor homes for them as well as to educate the public and assist humane societies. “We’re the primary bunny rescue group that works with ACC,” says Leung, referring to New York City’s Animal Care and Control. “Our volunteers go there every day to feed the rabbits.”

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Related Posts on ATZ…

January 8, 2014: Bunny Returns to Bulldozed Coney Island Garden, Kitten Euthanized

September 19, 2013: Photo of the Day: Coney Island Parakeets Go for a Walk

June 17, 2013: Photo of the Day: Paquito the Chihuahua in Coney Island

April 1, 2013: Sea Rabbits Swim Ashore in Coney Island, Up For Adoption

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Runaway rabbit

Runaway bunny returns to bulldozed Coney Island Community Garden. January 7, 2013. Photo by Carolyn McCrory

The rabbit and the cats who ran off during the December 28th pre-dawn bulldozing of the Coney Island Community Garden, where they were cared for by the gardeners, have been spotted. “It is so sad to see them sitting on the barren land,” said Carolyn McCrory, who sent us a photo of the yet-to-be-rescued bunny, a white rabbit with black ears.

It’s distressing to imagine a domestic rabbit left to fend for itself in wintry Coney Island. All the more so because the place was named Conyne Eylandt –Rabbit Island– by the Dutch after the wild rabbits that lived here in the 17th century. This runaway rabbit, who fled when developer iStar bulldozed the garden after Christmas to make way for an amphitheater project, is the only one of its kind. He went back to the garden looking for shelter but found none. Did the bunny survive yesterday’s freeze? [Update: After several sightings, the bunny was finally “netted” by a rescuer on January 18th and is safe.]

Coney Island Kittens

Kittens from community garden ended up at ACC, where one was euthanized and these two were rescued by Empty Cages Collective. December 30, 2013.

Another sad story is that of a mother cat, a calico who has been seen returning repeatedly to the bulldozed lot looking for her kittens. As ATZ previously reported, when a gardener collected her chickens she also walked off with three kittens. As it turns out, the next morning a cat carrier with the kittens was left on the boardwalk in front of the demolished garden. Pleas for help were posted on Facebook but before a rescuer could get there, the carrier was picked up by the City’s Animal Care and Control, which is a kill shelter.

PJ McCosky of Empty Cages Collective, who has recently rescued several cats in Coney Island, was alerted and rushed to ACC to save them. One sickly kitten had already been euthanized. The other two kittens were rescued and are now in the care of Empty Cages foster homes. The kittens were about four weeks old when found and need to be bottle fed.

Empty Cages Collective is an all-volunteer organization. You can support the work they do for New York City’s animals by donating or volunteering to become a foster home and following their Facebook page.

Coney Island Kitten

Kitten from bulldozed community garden brought to ACC and rescued by Empty Cages Collective. December 30, 2013.

Since ATZ began covering Coney Island in 2009, the colonies of cats have been pushed farther west by the dismantling of Astroland and the demolition of vacant buildings such as the Henderson and the Playland Arcade. The construction on the Boardwalk at West 21st Street is causing further displacement. While there are many people feeding the cats, there is much more that needs to be done. With the new year and the new pro-animal rights administration of Mayor de Blasio, we would like to see a program modeled on Alley Cat Allies Atlantic City Boardwalk Cats Project. Since 2000, the national advocacy organization dedicated to the protection and humane treatment of cats has cared for the feral cat colonies along the boardwalk as part of a city-supported Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program. According to their website, Atlantic City Boardwalk’s famous cats draw visitors and admirers from all over the country. Can’t we do the same for cats on the Coney Island Boardwalk?

Coney Island Boardwalk Kitty

Coney Island Boardwalk Kitty, September 28, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita

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December 27, 2013: Coney Island Mama Cat ‘Okaasan’ & Kittens Up for Adoption

December 10, 2013: Update on Coney Island Cat ‘Snow Coney’ & His Family

January 24, 2013: Landlord Evicting Famous Coney Island Cat and His Humans

January 26, 2011: Photo of the Day: Henderson Music Hall Cats Now Homeless

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