You don’t need to travel to Japan to find an island ruled by rabbits. Thanks to one American teenager with a dream, Minnesota is now home to its own miniature bunny paradise, a sustainable oasis on the Mississippi River near mile 832 just south of Saint Paul. The island is accessible only by boat and by invitation only.
After leasing the island and living on a houseboat in the summer of 2018, Caleb Smith purchased the 22-acre island and several smaller islands downstream that are now named Hope and Hoppiness. The islands serve as a warm-weather play areas for his bunnies who are being trained to be comfort animals. Picture a summertime day-camp for bunnies. The rabbits’ main home is Peacebunny Cottage, a farm in Savage, Minnesota, but they’re escorted to the island by youth guardians who help care for them while learning about caring for the environment.
Smith and volunteers train rare breed and rescued domestic rabbits to become comfort animals. Together with their human guardians the bunnies offer comfort, hope and “hoppiness” with those they meet. The Peacebunny Foundation provides funding to help bring these comfort rabbits to senior centers, hospice sites, children’s funerals, and sites of trauma/grief.
Know Before You Go
To help ensure that this private island is safe for both guests and rabbits, and to follow sustainability plans, the main island remains rustic and is not a formal tourist destination.
However Smith hosts contests periodically on social media to win an escorted trip by canoe to go island hopping on the river. Those 14 years old + who are interested in visiting the island are invited to complete the online form www.PeacebunnyIsland.com to be considered.
Public events with the Peacebunnies are hosted at the Peacebunny Cottage, the family farm. Visit the website for info on "Bunny Boot Camp" for foster families and volunteers, for hosting private parties, for evenings in the pasture with the bunnies, and for inviting the rabbits to your special event.
Presented in partnership with Lincoln. Explore more in our series, In Search of Sanctuary, an exploration of unique and wondrous places to experience the power of sanctuary.