How Easter Chocolate Could Save the Australian Bilby

A new campaign in time for Easter aims to save the endangered animal

What has two long ears, four legs, and is the face of a delicious Easter treat? It's not just the bunny — in Australia, the reigning king of Easter candy isn't the chocolate rabbit, but the chocolate bilby.

However, the bilby's rise to Easter candy-dom is a deliberate campaign from Australian animal activists eager to save the endangered species. Reuters reports that there are only about 600 left in the wild; in fact, it's the rabbits that are slowly ruining the bilbies' habitat. In 1991, the Foundation for Rabbit-Free Australia headed up the chocolate bilby campaign to replace the Easter Bunny, because, "in reality [rabbits] are Australia's greatest environmental feral pest and cause enormous damage to the arid zone."  Now, Australian candy makers Haigh's Chocolates and Darrell Lea sell not chocolate bunnies but chocolate bilbies, and donate portions of the proceeds to bilby-dedicated rescue efforts.

And so far, Project Chocolate Bilby has been working, reports NPR. Said Emily Miller, a biologist at the University of Sydney, "The sale of Easter bilbies instead of Easter bunnies has been very successful in increasing public awareness across Australia... It is great to see young kids talking about bilbies instead of bunnies."