The Barnwood bunnies
Barnwood bunnies bounce back
Reports of the demise of some of Gloucester's most famous residents are proved wrong as Barnwood's world-famous roundabout rabbits bounce back.
Did they burrow their way in? Or have they always lived on the roundabout that was built when Barnwood was open countryside not the built-up area it is today?
It's a question that has puzzled drivers for years since a colony of wild rabbits, whose home is bang in the middle of one of the city's busiest road junctions, have become one of Gloucester's best-loved landmarks.
In 2008 the bunnies even got a website dedicated to them, and for many people in Gloucester spring hasn't really sprung until real-life rabbits are spotted frolicking at the county's most unusual animal sanctuary - the busy Wall's roundabout at Barnwood.
But there have been reports of poachers seen trying to catch the rabbits with nets, and fears that someone might even be deliberately bumping the bunnies off with poison after several dead bodies were spotted by passing drivers.
The bunnies' burrows
So had it turned from a magical roundabout to a tragic roundabout? Happily at least half a dozen rabbits - including some babies - have been spotted hopping about on the roundabout in time for Easter, and munching away on the grass oblivious to the thunder of passing traffic just inches from them.
The rabbits' renaissance is a relief to one of their biggest fans, Gordon Tozer, who with his wife Janet has dedicated a website to the cuddly creatures.
"We first noticed them a couple of years ago and we've become very fond of them. It's a lovely bit of nature in a place you really wouldn't expect to see it, and I think they have thousands of fans. They're really famous now. People in Australia and New Zealand have even heard of them.
"But what I don't know but would love to find out is how they got there and how long they've been living there. It's an odd choice but you'd take your life in your hands crossing the road to get there as it's so busy, so maybe that's why the bunnies feel so safe."
Gordon added: "It's great to see them back because it's been a worrying few months. There were reports that people were seen trying to capture them in nets at Christmas, possibly for the pot, and a couple of months ago several of them were seen lying dead, and we wondered if someone had been poisoning them. But there have been reports of myxamatosis elsewhere in the city so it might have been that.
"They're quite a phenomenon and it's good that the council seems to be recognising their popularity. They've left the rabbits alone but at one time there was pressure to make the roundabout look nice.
"I know some people think of them as vermin and they have dug out holes for burrows. But I hope they continue to thrive."
Click on the link at the top right to hear Clare Parrack's interview with Gordon Tozer.
last updated: 18/06/2009 at 15:58