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Easter Bilby inches out Easter Bunny in Australia

The Easter Bunny's days could be numbered Down Under. Conservationists in Australia hope to replace the iconic figure with the Easter Bilby.

There are only approximately 600 bilbies left in the wild in Australia. The marsupial is native to the country and in many ways resembles a rabbit with its long ears, and silky fur, not to mention that the males grow to about the same size as a rabbit. Bilbies, who also have a small pouch, have seen their numbers shrink in part due to rabbits, which were introduced to the country and are seen by many as pests.

Which is why Australians should celebrate the Easter Bilby, according to Mike Drinkwater, a conservationist at a Sydney wildlife park.

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"Number one, rabbits are a pest in Australia. Secondly, the bilby has these lovely, endearing rabbit-like qualities," he told Reuters.

"Thirdly, the bilby is a beautiful, iconic native animal that is struggling. It is endangered, so it's important that we do all we can to support that."

Many other Australians have sided with Team Bilby, as it were. Reuters reports that chocolate stores are displaying Easter Bilbies in their windows, and some schools are using Easter Bilbies for their egg hunts.

"Given that bilbies have suffered so greatly due to the introduction of rabbits, it's directly linked to a very important conservation and education message," Drinkwater said.

The Easter Bilby actually has a long history in Australia. The Foundation for Rabbit-Free Australia adopted the Easter Bilby in 1991.

And a handful of children's books about the Easter Bilby were written in the mid-1990s, including Burra Nimu, The Easter Bilby, which tells the story about a bilby that saves the land from rabbits.

But don't worry, Easter Bunny. We still love you here in Canada.

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About the Author

Dave McGinn writes about fitness trends for the Life section and also reports for Globe Arts. Prior to joining the Globe, he was a freelance journalist, covering topics from trying to eat Michael Phelps' diet to why the Joker is the best villain in comics history. He's working on improving his 10k time. More

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