Believe In Bunnies

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Theodora

It’s about time that you meet Theodora.

We started by taking the overflow when the usual bunny-sitters were booked. Then, the bunny-sitters moved to Florida so there was more need for our services. We have a finished basement and we always have a bale of hay in the garage, so bunny-sitting on occasion fits in well for us. When we were watching Spice and Harley a few years ago, their mom coined the name Camp Bee… and it stuck.

Theodora came to Camp Bee just before Halloween 2019. Her mom was moving and wanted Theodora safely out of the standard chaos of a move so she booked a long-weekend stay at Camp Bee. Unexpected hurdle after hurdle, some bordering disaster, came flying at Theodora’s mom in what was supposed to be a standard move from one home to another. I reassured her that her little lop was fine here for as long as she needs to be. That’s part of the magic of our Rescue family.

Theodora, being the longest running camper at Camp Bee, deserves a little shout out here today.

When she was with our Rescue group, her name was Faith. She came into our care with an almost-identical twin sister, whose name was originally Hope but changed to Joy since we already had a Hope on our roster. These sisters were purchased from a pet store or breeder; the exact detail eludes me. They came into our care because Hope-turned-Joy had chronic digestive issues that the owners could not manage. Joy required daily medication, special diet, and frequent hospitalization. She suffered from a condition called megacolon. Despite our interventions, Joy did not survive.

Faith got lots of foster family and volunteer love as she mourned the loss of her sister. Not long after Joy’s passing, a former adopter of ours texted me. She saw Faith’s picture on our website. Having lost her lop Matilda several months before, she was ready to open her heart again. We arranged a meeting at my house, in the finished basement now known as Camp Bee.

She was adopted that night. Love at first hop… renamed Theodora shortly after adoption.

During her extended stay here at Camp Bee, Theodora has been an absolute dream. Where our own Peanut will bite your face off if you try to snuggle him, Theodora is gentle, tolerant of all sorts of snuggles, and even takes grooming without so much as a grunt! She runs around her penned area, lop ears flopping in the breeze, the occasional binky-kick-turn. We’ve nicknamed her Breadstick, Sticky, and Lil’ Beanie. She adores the Bunny-Daddy and runs to greet him with the most adorable fervor, even when he doesn’t have a bowl of salad in his hands.

She might go home today, as her mom’s living situation has course-corrected, or she might stay longer. I’m in no rush to see her go. She’s a perfect little camper and we are glad to have been able to help when she needed a place to rest her little paws.

Much love.

Theodora

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Believe Bunnies Purpose Rescue

Throwback: Lessons Learned

Enjoy this throwback post from February 2016 titled Lessons Learned

Have I learned and worked the lessons? Something to reflect on today!

I’ve learned so much about rabbits in my nearly four years as a volunteer for the Long Island Rabbit Rescue… but I’ve learned even more about people.

I’ve observed volunteers of all ages and walks of life care for rabbits that we’ve saved from brutal neglect situations with inspiring love, yet neglect their own selves—“burning out” from taking on too much or simply not feeding and caring for themselves the way they do our foster and sanctuary rabbits.  These women and men would never let a rabbit go hungry or feed a rabbit a less than balanced, nutritious diet, but they don’t take the time to nurture themselves.  They make sure every foster and sanctuary rabbit gets daily exercise time to run, hop and play—but they don’t seem to prioritize themselves.  As dedicated volunteers, we recognize how much these gentle creatures need us.  If only we remembered that we are gentle creatures too.  Sometimes we need a little treat or a softer rug to rest our paws too.  For my fellow volunteers, I wish you would “cover a shift” in caring for yourself.  I am so blessed to work with each of you.  Please take care of you, too.

I’ve talked with hundreds of people, almost always parents of young children, who are looking to rehome their rabbit, in whom their children lost interest or for whom the family feels they can’t (or don’t want to) care anymore. These people are often ashamed to ask for help.  They perceive a failure in what they were wrongly told was a simple task—to care for a prey animal like a rabbit.  So many times, if people are open to our support, we are able to make life better for the rabbit and manageable for the family.  It’s important to see our commitments through, for our own strength and for our pet’s existence.  For these people, I wish them faith in themselves and the strength to ask for support.  Making positive changes in the current home or finding a new home will take work, for sure, but these innocent rabbits deserve the dedication!

And for all considering bringing an animal in their lives, do your research.  If you want something that’s easy to care for and something that won’t suffer when your children move on to the next interest, please buy a stuffed toy.  Please don’t use a living thing to teach a lesson, unless you are completely committed yourself to seeing that lesson through.

That said, I’ve learned so much in these four years of giving to the abandoned and neglected rabbits of Long Island.  From these fragile creatures, I’ve learned that I need space, too.  Sometimes there’s nothing more blissful than tossing the task at hand to this side (for me, returning some emails, for the bunnies, a woven grass toy or cardboard tube) and flopping out for a nap.

Sometimes it’s scary to hop somewhere new, but you might just find your favorite spot that way.  You also might find danger there, so sniff a lot first.  And use your whiskers as your guide.

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Believe Bunnies Purpose Rescue

A Problem & A Fix

Loyal readers know by now that I’m the main point of contact for a volunteer animal rescue organization called the Long Island Rabbit Rescue Group.  Earlier this week, we received a remarkable number of emails from people who are looking to get rid of their rabbits. We call this rehoming, but that’s often a soft euphemism. I wrote a post in our volunteer group that day that went deeper than our usual posts there. I decided to save it and share it with you today, a look into that side of my Rescue world.

Here’s what I had to say to our team:

 

Education. That’s how we “fix” this problem.

I don’t tell you any of this to upset you or to anger you. I share with you so we can support each other in our shared mission of ensuring the safety and protection of domestic rabbits.

Today alone LIRRG received emails about 28 unwanted rabbits. 28. Today. On Long Island. Some from “accidental litters” that could have been prevented with education.

These people reach out to us, trying to do the “right thing” by an animal either they no longer want, no longer can care for or were just plain not expecting… but we have no recourse for them. Even if we had a shelter facility, it would be filled by the end of the week. And no, the Town shelters typically do not accept rabbits, as they are not equipped to care for them. Yet the towns and counties still allow the sale. I wonder if our representatives know there is even an issue…

I know where these rabbits are coming from. We ask those who email us and they tell us. None of these people welcomed rabbit(s) into their lives planning on getting rid of him/her/them. But, with few exceptions, they were not given accurate or any information upon purchase. They also chose not to do any research before purchase… but if there was a chance that the shirt I bring up to the register at Macy’s was going to chew my couch and potentially multiply into 15 shirts, I think it would be the staff or management’s job to let me know that.

We need to get out in FULL FORCE to educate, to teach about proper care, spay/neuter and the benefits of adoption over shopping. Although we are making a difference, the problem is multiplying like… well, like rabbits.

Sure, you rather stay home on a Saturday than staff a table at an education. Sure, you rather text your bestie than email your legislatures. But, I am also sure that you look over at the exercise pen in your family room and know that your rabbit would want you to get involved on behalf of his/her/their furry friends.

 

So, dear readers, maybe you’re not a rabbit owner or lover… but there are some beings in your life that you love, including yourself! In honor of that love and care, do something today to make the world safer and brighter… send a “thinking of you” text, donate $10 to your local animal rescue, treat yourself to a 10 minute massage. Spread love.

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Believe Bunnies Coaching Energy Purpose Rescue Teacher Life

I’m Not Busy

Don’t get me wrong—there’s lots of activity happening at headquarters but I do not feel busy.

Last week, a dear friend posted a graphic on Facebook, prompting scrollers to describe her life using only GIFs. I have a GIF obsession, so of course I was into this. For this friend, I posted a Green Acres GIF (don’t be surprised that those are sparse) because she’s a Glamazon who lives on a farm.

Several dozens of us reposted the graphic for ourselves. I was having a Valerie Cherish moment, so I picked GIFs from The Comeback for most. Then I waited for mine to roll in.

Of course, most featured rabbits (side note: that overly populated “rabbit island” in Japan isn’t cute to me—those poor rabbits have no care, no food and no shelter. But I know your intention in posting that one wasn’t bad!) and some others featured a theme of Zen, rainbows, unicorns and yoga mats. Then, there were the ones that got me: the ones that looked or even said chaos or chaotic.

Radical honesty: my life does not feel chaotic from the inside. And I sincerely hope I don’t portray that it is chaotic or unmanageable.

I used to feel tired all the time. I used to feel like I had no time for anything, like I was always busy, like there wasn’t enough time in a week to do what I had to do in a day. Ironically, that was when I was working one job, living with my family and not volunteering. I perceived my daily life as one of overwhelm and exhaustion. It didn’t help that I was hanging around with a lot of people who spun that same story in their lives, doing little more than just getting by, complaining the whole way through.

Now, I don’t feel busy because I am clear on what I am doing, why I am doing it and I am faithfully judicious with my time. Time hasn’t changed. I’ve learned to manage my activities. My Green Acres Glamazon is the one who taught me that you can’t manage time but you can manage activity. But even before I knew it in those terms, I was making it happen. The key, for me, is routine and consistency. It’s setting up systems to make it all work with efficacy and ease. I now work that same job, run two businesses, volunteer daily, co-manage a household and sleep 8+ hours a night. I don’t say this to impress you; I say this to impress upon you that you can feel at ease and get it all done. Manage the activity. The time is going to flow on its own.

A typical weekday looks like this for me:

4:30 am: Meditate, write, reflect, sometimes yoga

5:15 am: Get ready for work

6:45 am -2:30 pm: Work the day job

3:30 pm: Reflect, regroup, straighten up the house

4:30 – 7:30 pm: Volunteer work, business work

8:00 pm: Sweet dreams, babies.

 

With routine, I can get everything done and feel a flow, feel at ease. There are days that vary from the quick list above, for sure. Things come up but since I have a solid routine that works for me (my way is not for everyone!) I’m able to manage special events, the unexpected or whatever else life can throw at us.

I know many of you, dear readers, are still retching at the thought of getting up at a time that begins with a 4, unless it’s to catch an early flight somewhere. You don’t have to follow my way! This is what works for me. I am far less effective at anything I attempt to do, particularly writing and “brain work” in the evening. Remember there’s nothing wrong or weird about being a night owl or an early bird. Know thyself and soar.

I promise that there’s little chaos, and when it does creep in, I know how to breathe, step away and manage it. You too can feel at ease and feel like you’re getting it all done, whether you do one thing or all the things. Overwhelm and exhaustion does not have to be your story any longer.

 

Ready to set up your routine? I’m here.

Click here

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Believe Bunnies Purpose Rescue

Rescue Vision

Sometimes I think, “everybody wants to help until it’s time to help” but it’s time to stop that way of thinking. That is blocking the help from showing up. In rescue, it’s always time to help.

There has not been one day in my 7+ years volunteering when no help was needed. Time to apply what I teach and coach. How often we neglect to practice what we preach and teach…

My ultimate vision is that rescue doesn’t have to exist, a world in which domestic rabbits are fully safe and protected. Yes, I want us to go out of business.

But in the meantime, I’ll cast this vision:

-Our veterinary bills are paid in full.

-Requests for transports are filled promptly and consistently.

-Our foster rabbits are happy and active. They are supplied with an abundance of soft-rugged indoor space and enriching toys.

-People make informed choices before adding a rabbit, or any being, to their families.

-Our volunteer squad is rich with motivated, compassionate, dedicated, loyal and kind people. We have so much help that we have to create tasks to satiate their desire help!

 

We continue to save more lives than ever, to complete and  enrich more families than before, to make a positive difference for the most grateful little furry ones.

And it’s an honor to live out my life’s purpose alongside such a remarkable team.

“The whispers fade. The impact of your purpose stays.” -Melissa Poepping

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Believe Bunnies Energy Purpose Reiki Rescue

Throwback: Why Rabbits?

I came across this gem that I wrote in October of 2016… and I love how every word is still true (or truer) today. Enjoy this throwback.

I’ve been asked the question “Why rabbits?” in a variety of contexts over the five years that I’ve been a bunny-mom and subsequently a rescuer.  I typically blink thrice and answer something along the lines of “uh, because… they are awesome.”  I’m sure I’ve given some more constructive answers when the asker is deserving of a quality response.  You, my darling readers, are deserving of a response, although many of you have your own “why” when it comes to our cotton-bottom babies.

Why rabbits…

  • Because the bunny-daddy and I live for our boys. They are the light of our lives.  Even when they are posing as bunstruction workers, Peanut and Tater Tot are the center of our world.    They turn 5 years old this month!

  • Because rabbits are the third most popular pet in America.

  • Because rabbits are the third most abandoned, neglected and abused animal in America.

  • Because, whether the day is sunshiny or downright dreadful, rabbits can always make you smile.

  • Because I can be their voice. As much as they understand us, they still can’t speak back with words.  With nose bonks, snuggles and sometimes grunts, they can though!

  • Because, and this “why” is highly personal, I’ve never felt more alive doing anything in my personal or professional life as I do when I’m giving a rabbit Reiki session, tending to chores at one of our foster homes or just lying on the floor with one of our boys.

  • Because it’s empowering to make a difference… and we are making a beautiful difference in the lives of these bunnies.

That’s how Rescue and Reiki have come together so gloriously for me.  There are tangible tasks, like catching a stray or cleaning a litter box, and there is energy work that heals, comforts and connects.  Put it all together and that’s why.  Why rabbits?  I can’t give you a point of peripety.  There wasn’t just one moment where time stopped and I was showered in golden light (well, now that I write that, there have been a number of moments like that… but we’ll save that topic for another day).  But it is rabbits.  Unequivocally.  I work for them, on the front lines, in the back office and in my energetic field all day, every day.  This hop cannot be stopped.  And I’d love to hear “Why rabbits” for you—please share in the comments!  Much love.

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Believe Bunnies Energy Healing Purpose Rescue

Why I Stopped Eating Meat…

and why I’ll never bug you to do the same.

You know those memories that are like movies in your head? This is one for me.

I was standing at the counter of the kitchen/living room/bunny room combo in our first house, sometimes referred to as The Little House. I was cutting a packaged chicken breast and I stopped. I looked over my right shoulder at our boy Tater Tot, our first born. The thought flashed through my mind: Why am I spending all of my free time saving one and now I’m slicing and eating another?

Taking meat out of my diet never, I mean never, occurred to me. Paradigm, our mental programming, has meat as a part of our diets. That’s just what we eat, right? I never thought about it beyond flavor and enjoyment before. It never had a face before.

At the time, I was volunteering for maybe a year or two with the Long Island Rabbit Rescue Group. At this point, I was spending 7 or more hours per week volunteering, between answering emails and phone calls, covering shifts at foster homes and other various tasks. In addition to working full-time, 7 hours is a big chunk of “free time”—that’s more time than I was watching shows on Bravo in a week! So, there I was at the counter, one hand on the chicken breast, one hand on the knife, one heart and one mind at a turning point.

From that day, I gradually removed animal products from my diet. First went the white meat, anything remotely resembling the little loves we rescue. Then, everything else started to go. I just didn’t want it anymore—just didn’t make sense for me anymore. I could no longer make a value distinction between a dog and a cow, between a rabbit and a chicken, between a cat and a pig. I value them all the same now.

And that’s just the thing. I value them… my values. And my values do not have to be yours. I will never bug you to eat the way I do. I would have never made this change and definitely would not have stuck with it so faithfully if I didn’t have a meaningful reason, a true “why” behind it all. Please, do what feels right for you. Eat foods and make choices that take you to the best version of you, that make you feel happy and energized. If you are eating something that causes you physical pain afterward, it might be time to put that down and make a different choice. And that applies to what it is and to quantity!

Making the change to a plant-based diet was far less difficult than the paradigm will have you believe. And I’m happy I made my transition before this influx of processed “vegan junk food” hitting the mainstream shelves now. Delicious, sure… but not necessarily nutritious. My label-reading-ninja skills come into play with food as much as they do with personal care and household products.

Living my life my way… and always respecting your choice to live your life your way. That’s really all it is. That’s simply why I’ll never bug you to stop eating meat, to foster an animal, to do anything that you’re not necessarily interested in doing. Trust, I am nothing but delighted when I hear that someone is making a choice that honors the life of a living thing, but I know darn well that if anyone tried to force this way of eating and thinking on to me, it would have been repulsive. To paraphrase my coach Melissa, people don’t dislike change but people do not like to be changed. And to quote the guru James Hetfield, “Life is ours… we live it our way.”

Much love.

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angels Believe Bunnies Rescue

Some Rabbit Stories

I feel like I haven’t told you a rabbit story in a while…

That’s probably because I don’t feel like I own the stories as much as I used to. I feel very behind-the-scenes in Rescue… and I am NOT complaining. In fact, I prayed for this. I set very clear intentions with the Universe that the core group of volunteers, who were doing everything when I started helping out, would be matched by a team equal in passion, dedication and purpose and bigger in size.

Dreams come true. Intentions, with consistent work behind them, manifest.

Wednesday night, I sat in front of the computer screen, broadcasting to our group of volunteers and supporters about the various events of the day. I’m a fan of sharing as much of what’s going on as possible—clear communication is the foundation of making it work!

On Wednesday, on top of the day-to-day business of feeding and caring for foster rabbits, veterinary appointments and the like, we had a particularly active day. All at once:

-an adopter who lives well over an hour from the vet’s office needed a ride to said vet’s office, as her rabbit stopped eating. She doesn’t drive. Within minutes of asking for help, a volunteer arranged to drive her to and from an emergency appointment.

-we rescued a bunny who had been living outside for 3 years!! Outside for even 3 minutes in our climate/environment is dangerous. This rabbit had, of late, become the chew toy of the family’s new dog when the dog went outside to poop or play. That’s the short version of the story, as you can imagine. The rabbit is safe now.

-a rabbit who has been in our foster care for a bit over a year was diagnosed with cancer. Angel’s foster mother noticed that she hasn’t been finishing her food and hasn’t been very active. A volunteer took Angel in for a checkup and the doctor diagnosed Angel with cancer. X-rays show that it has metastasized in her chest. Now, we do everything we can to keep her comfortable… and dream of some angel of a person to show up and give her a forever home for whatever time she has left.

-a team of volunteers went out to rescue what was reported as two abandoned rabbits in a residential neighborhood in Suffolk County. Upon arrival, our team found out that these rabbits belonged to someone on the block who was not caring for them and letting them run in the street. The “owner” grabbed both rabbits in one hand and tossed them to our volunteers. Our group is unable to accept owner surrenders… but this wasn’t a typical surrender. These two rabbits, both male, are in rough shape, underweight, covered in bite marks and dirt. Their foster family is caring for them, teaching them to trust and making sure they have lots of delicious greens and hay to eat.

Those four situations, on top of the everyday operations, made for an energetically overwhelming day. But we’ve curated such a phenomenal team of volunteers and supporters… everything worked out the best it possibly could. I was able to focus and “call the plays,” capitalizing on my innate organizational skills. The team was able to execute and do the best we could for the greatest good. Then, I got to hop onto a Facebook Live and recap the day to our group of volunteers and supporters.

I am honored and humbled to work alongside such loving and dedicated people. Much love!

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Believe Bunnies Healing Purpose Rescue

Paddington

For everyone celebrating something today, I wish you and yours a happy one.

I had the honor of spending yesterday with a very special boy, local celebunny Paddington.

 

In a town in central Nassau county, about two months ago, a woman found a domestic rabbit in her yard. She was able to pick him up and bring him inside. She bought him food and cared for him the best she could for a few weeks. In the interim, and completely unrelated to Paddington’s arrival, this kind woman lost her job. She reached out to us at the Long Island Rabbit Rescue Group when she noticed she was running low on food for the rabbit she found. We coordinated a volunteer to bring food and other supplies she may need while she was fostering. We also planned to start the process of finding this rabbit a forever home.

Our volunteer went to the finder’s house that evening. She texted me shortly after she arrived there and said, “I’m taking him.” I hope she doesn’t get mad at me for sharing this… but she was crying. And this is a volunteer who works in animal rescue and rehabilitation professionally, someone who sees extremely tough stuff on a daily basis. One look at the rabbit we now know as Paddington brought her to tears… because of his ears.

Our volunteer remarked to the finder about the rabbit’s ears and the finder acknowledged that they are very short (I love and protect her innocence… she didn’t realize why). She found Paddington that way. By the time she found and saved him, his ears healed from being crudely chopped off. Sorry to hit you with such a stark reality on this Sunday, and for some holy, morning.

Paddington

In case you are wondering if this wasn’t a result of human cruelty… in Rescue we seeing plenty of ear injuries caused by other animals, endured before rescue and safety. Check out Shark, for example. Then compare his ear to Paddington’s ears. This is what moved our volunteer to tears and to take him with her. The finder was very grateful as she was struggling to care for the rabbit she found.

Despite the trauma he endured, Paddington settled in quickly and comfortably at his foster home. When I put out the call for a spokesbunny for an education and photo event at Pet Supplies Plus in Deer Park yesterday, Paddy’s foster mom volunteered him… and what a great choice he was! He was comfortable, even when three St. Bernard’s pounded into the store, and friendly with all of his fans. He enjoyed snuggles from store patrons and staff and even showed the Easter Bunny who is the boss!

Paddington 2

From her plans to drop off food and assess supply needs to becoming Paddington’s foster mom in a blink of time, my incredible colleague and her family have embraced this dear little one with pure love. I suspect, after Paddington’s neuter surgery tomorrow, that they just might make him an official part of their family.

LIRRG Family.

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Believe Bunnies Purpose Rescue

We Won’t Stop

Around this time every year, I publish a story that I wrote in 2016… a reminder to some, new knowledge to others, about why Rescue exists.

We won’t stop until they are all safe and loved.

Found but still lost

I am the initial point of contact when someone emails information@longislandrabbitrescue.org.  This month, the number of “finder” emails we have received is more than double the number we receive in a typical month. We define a “finder” as someone who has either spotted a stray domestic rabbit or has rescued an abandoned domestic rabbit and is reaching out to our group for resources and recourses.  I have typed the following sentences an alarming number of times this month: “We don’t have a shelter facility; all of our rabbits are fostered in private homes. If you or someone you know can provide an indoor foster home, we can…”  And it’s not even Easter yet.

We get at least a hundred emails to the aforementioned address per month—only three times in my almost three years of being at the email helm has someone reached out because their rabbit had actually gone missing. So I can safely conclude that these “found” rabbits are abandoned, dumped, neglected.

Abandonment happens one of two ways, from my perspective.  There are the scarily misinformed, who think their rabbit, who no longer serves a purpose in their family, will survive in the woods or in a park because other rabbits live in the wild.  Yeah… those are wild rabbits.  Not domestic rabbits.  Domestic rabbits will not survive and will face the harsh elements of the seasons and starvation, and predators.  A horrible fate.

Then, there are the heartless, who just don’t care, who need this “thing” out of their house.  Sometimes these people try to seek help before abandoning their rabbit, but most town shelters aren’t equipped to handle rabbits and most rescue groups are overloaded, no matter the animal on which they focus.  For these, about whom “careless” is the nicest word I can muster, the living being they once chose to care for has passed his/her expiration date and must be tossed out.  Just a note—if caught abandoning an animal, one faces $1,000 fine and other legal consequences.  If you see something, take pictures. Send them to me.  I’ll turn them in for you.  I’m not shy.

We need:

  • Stores and breeders to stop selling rabbits.
  • People to make more informed decisions before adding any living being into their families.
  • Foster homes, donations and volunteers to save the abandoned animals.
  • You to speak up, if you know someone has dumped an animal.
  • Compassion for all things living.

As a rescue group, our resources are limited but trust that we use them to their maximum potential!  Thank you for being one of our resources.  Spread the reality about rabbits as pets—10-12 year commitment, specialized veterinary care, bunny-proofing (As I hear my chief destruction worker bunny Tater Tot tearing in to what I hope is his cardboard tunnel in the next room…).  As awareness is heightened, I hope there are far fewer rabbits out there to save.  But for now, many rabbits are found but still lost, as the number abandoned far surpasses the number of foster homes and adopters.

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