Via NPR.org - In the turf war between rabbits and bilbies in Australia's arid grasslands, rabbits have largely won out. But the chocolate bilby has staked its claim on the springtime candy shelf - an honor that could help the threatened species make a real comeback.
Never heard of a bilby? It's a cute, rabbit-sized marsupial with large ears and a long, pointed nose. Once upon a time, it hopped around much of Australia. But the arrival of European settlers some 200 years ago brought hard times for the bilbies. Cities and farms destroyed habitat. Foxes and feral cats preyed on them. And rabbits eventually pushed them out of their burrows.
In 1968, a 9-year-old girl in Queensland wrote a story, "Billy the Aussie Easter Bilby," which she published as a book 11 years later. The story helped catalyze the public's interest in saving the bilby, and by 1991, the Foundation for Rabbit-Free Australia began their Easter Bilby campaign to replace the Easter bunny with true native wildlife.
Soon chocolate makers caught on and began selling chocolate bilbies. Haigh's Chocolates and Darrell Lea continue to earmark proceeds to the candy's real-life counterparts.
And though Australians still consume plenty of chocolate bunnies each Easter, the chocolate bilbies have helped make bilby lovers out of urbanites who will likely never see the animals in the wild. "The sale of Easter bilbies instead of Easter bunnies has been very successful in increasing public awareness across Australia," says Emily Miller, a biologist at the University of Sydney.
Read full story at http://n.pr/HvqKvW