Step into Tranquility Trails Animal Sanctuary in Scottsdale, and you’ll immediately notice it’s not like any other. There are no barking of dogs, squawking of birds, or meowing of cats. There is only the soft padding of little rabbit feet. Founded in 2008, Tranquility Trails is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that relies heavily on donations and volunteers to keep the bunnies that it houses happy and healthy. There’s also a retail store in front that sells pet supplies for all kinds of animals, Tranquility Trail shirts, and even antiques and collectibles. It is currently the largest rabbit sanctuary open seven days a week to the public in Arizona.
Tranquility Trails will someday be a sanctuary for all animals, but for now, it’s just for the bunnies. All the rabbits here are domestic. They have either been rescued from abusive situations or simply dropped off by previous owners who were unable or unwilling to take care of them anymore. Rabbits are quite a commitment as they usually live between eight to twelve years. Rabbits require special care just like a cat or dog, but unlike those animals, they don’t use their vocal chords to tell you anything. The only time you are likely to hear a rabbit “talk” is if they are in extreme pain or very scared. At that time they will emit a cry that may sound like a honk or a baby crying. Tranquility Trails goes through great pains to help educate the public about the care for rabbits, especially around Easter. Lots of people like to get cuddly bunnies for Easter, but either don’t know how, or don’t want to take care of another mouth in the house. Every year, several bunnies are dropped off at the sanctuary, and sadly, some of them have to be turned away. Tranquility is a no kill shelter, and has limited space. All of the staff will tell you that the best rabbit to receive at Easter is a stuffed toy, or the chocolate variety.
The environment in the sanctuary is ideal. The walls are painted with bright, yet soothing colorful murals reminiscent of beaches and fields. Classical music plays in the background. Each of the bunnies are housed one, two or sometimes three to an enclosure. Each enclosure has a soft towel on the bottom with a food and water bowl, litter box, wicker shelter or cardboard house, and bunny toys including wood toys for them to gnaw on. This may seem like a lot, but the enclosures are large, open air, and the bunnies love them. On each of the pens, you’ll see the rabbit’s name, and a colored heart. Some of the bunnies that come here have had very rough lives. Green means that the bunny is socialized and likes people. Yellow means that they are getting used to people but are still scared of some, and red means that the rabbit has a lot of work to do until they are ready to be handled. Unless pressed, rabbits are usually not aggressive, they prefer to run and hide. Another feature of the sanctuary are the play areas. Bunnies are just like any other animal, and they need a chance to play and stretch their legs. The large play areas are rotated throughout the day and include the blankets, water bowls, and places to hide and play on.
One thing the sanctuary is always in need of is volunteers. If you visit their website, you can see pictures of some of the bunnies you’ll encounter there, and fill out a form to become a volunteer. After a short orientation, you’ll be good to go. Volunteer as much or as little as you want. You’ll learn how to clean the bunnies enclosures, groom them, and socialize them. It’s great for kids who need to get community service hours in for school projects or adults just wanting to help out. There’s always something to do from washing the blankets, to sweeping the floors, to making sure the rabbits are fed and watered. If you find you’d like adopt a rabbit and give it a forever home, the best way to do that is to volunteer first, and find out who you jive with. Just like any other animal, rabbits each have their own personality, and it’s good to get to know them. You may adopt a single rabbit, or if it shares an enclosure, both must be taken together. Bunnies are fiercely loyal to one another, and once a pair is bonded, they are inseparable. However, with different personalities, not every bunny likes the other, so a lot of “bunny speed dating” goes on in the center finding the perfect match for each one. You won’t have to worry about any of them multiplying though as they are all spayed or neutered. If you’re not ready to give a rabbit a forever home, you can always sponsor a bunny by having your own that stays at the sanctuary that you buy treats and necessities for.
When visiting the website, you may make a donation to the non-profit sanctuary if you like, or join them in the animal advocacy tab to help stop live bunnies from being won as carnival prizes, and other inhumane practices. A service the sanctuary provides when they have room is bunny sitting. If you are going on vacation and need to kennel your bunny, Tranquility Trails will be happy to take care of them while you’re gone. There are youth programs to help kids learn about the importance and responsibility of taking care of pets while educating them in a fun environment. They can come visit you at your school or meeting place, or you can come to them in Scottsdale. There are also Summer Day Camps to keep the little ones busy during the summer. Something that all pet lovers adore is the annual Holiday Pet Festival. Held at WestWorld in December, the festival is for all kinds of pets and their owners. This family and pet friendly festival showcases pictures with Santa, arts and crafts, and one of a kind items for your furry friend.
Don’t be shy to stop by the sanctuary seven days a week for a tour, to volunteer, learn, and have a great time caring for those smaller than you. It will make you feel great that you are making a difference in the lives of these small creatures, and you may even make a new friend! Show your support by making a tax deductible donation, or just enjoy the festival each year. It’s up to you!