Wild New Zealand rab­bits surf on sheep to es­cape flood­wa­ters

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH & SCIENCE -

WELLING­TON, New Zealand: Three wild rab­bits man­aged to es­cape ris­ing flood­wa­ters in New Zealand by clam­ber­ing aboard a flock of sheep and surf­ing to safety on their woolly backs. Ferg Horne, 64, says he’s been farm­ing since he left school at age 15 and has never seen any­thing quite like it. He was trudg­ing through pelt­ing rain to res­cue a neigh­bor’s 40 sheep from the flood­wa­ters on Satur­day at their South Is­land farm near Dunedin when he spot­ted some dark shapes from a dis­tance.

He was puz­zled be­cause he knew his neigh­bor, who was away in Rus­sia at­tend­ing a nephew’s wed­ding, didn’t have any black-faced sheep. As he got closer, he thought it might be de­bris from the storm, which had drenched the area and forced Horne to evac­u­ate his home. Then he saw the bedrag­gled rab­bits hitch­ing a ride - two on one sheep and a third on an­other sheep.”I couldn’t be­lieve it for a start,” he said. No­body else would be­lieve him ei­ther with­out proof, he thought, so he got out his phone to take a photo, an im­age he fig­ured his grand­chil­dren would en­joy.

In fact, he in­ad­ver­tently shot a short video. “It’s a Sam­sung or a smart­phone or what­ever you call it. I swear at it ev­ery day,” he said. “I’m ab­so­lutely use­less with tech­nol­ogy.” Nev­er­the­less, Horne man­aged to cap­ture the mo­ment. He said the sheep were hud­dled to­gether on a high spot on the farm, stand­ing in about 8 cen­time­ters of water. He said the rab­bits looked like they’d got­ten wet but seemed quite com­fort­able and re­laxed atop their mounts.

Rab­bits are con­sid­ered a pest to farm­ers in New Zealand, and Horne said that typ­i­cally when he sees one, he shoots it. “But they’d showed so much ini­tia­tive, I thought they de­served to live, those rab­bits,” he said. Horne herded the sheep to a patch of dry ground on the farm about 50 me­ters away. The sheep didn’t like it. “As they jumped through the water, the rab­bits had a jolly good try at stay­ing on,” Horne said. —AP

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