Emory Report
April 28, 2008
Volume 60, Number 29

Adopt a bunny
“I don’t believe in buying a ‘new’ animal, there are too many animals in shelters who desperately need loving homes,” says Leslie Hunter, who recommends the following animal organizations:

House Rabbit Society:

Noah’s Ark Animal Rehabilitation Center:


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April 28, 2008
A ministry of optimism

By Elizabeth Elkins

Leslie Hunter’s office has a window, but it’s not one through which you can see outside. Instead, it’s a window frame painted with splashes of blue, green and red, decorated by two orange and green stuffed bunnies.

Hunter, a senior research analyst in the Office of Development and Alumni Relations, is quick to point out that she’s never been artistic visually, but that she tries to make the best of any situation, windowless offices included. Her optimistic demeanor mirrors the feel of her colorfully decorated workspace — replete with a myriad of stuffed animals, Easter baskets and a copy of Beatrix Potter’s “The Tale of Peter Rabbit.”

Lagomorphs are a recurring theme, one that reflects Hunter’s home life with four pet rabbits. The furry pets have been a staple in her life since she moved to Atlanta from Cedar Falls, Iowa, in 1990.

“When my then-husband worried I was changing my mind about not having children, we went to a rabbit show and I fell in love with them,” she recalls. “I was never a cat person, and we lived in an apartment so a dog was not an option. Rabbits were a perfect fit.”

Since adopting her first rabbit in 1990, Hunter has saved 13 rabbits including her current brood, two of which have special health needs. “I like to think of myself as an unofficial spokesperson for rabbits,” she says. “I’m not much of a believer in Chinese astrology, but I found out recently I was born in the Year of the Hare, which may explain why I cannot live without my rabbits.”

She compares owning rabbits to owning cats — “They use a litter box, they don’t bark and some don’t ever want to be touched or held,” she explains — with the slight difference that rabbits require fresh food.

“People at the farmer’s market are always asking me how I cook my kale,” she laughs. “Then I tell them I have no idea, because it’s for my rabbits. The rabbits also always need something to chew on, such as pinecones or cardboard, or they will get into phone lines and furniture very quickly. My coworkers are great about bringing used cardboard boxes to my office.”

Hunter has long been involved in the Georgia chapter of the House Rabbit Society, volunteering as the organization’s newsletter editor and as a grant writer for many years. It’s a logical extension from her work at Emory, where she is responsible for finding potential individual and group donors to support Emory College, Emory Graduate School and the Carlos Museum.

Rabbits are not Hunter’s only passion. She’s also a musician, who has moved on from her time in the pop group Jazzarama to a group called The Amazing Graces, a trio who visits nursing homes bringing the joy of show tunes, rock and roll and New Orleans jazz to the elderly. She has recently become involved in Sacred Harp singing, a Southern religious tradition also known as shape note singing.

“I enjoy it because it’s not about performing. It’s about reverence and prayer,” she says.

Reverence and prayer round out Hunter’s incredibly busy life. She’s hard at work earning her license in sacred theology from the Karin Kabalah Center and St. Thomas Christian Church, a degree that will make her a state-ordained minister.

“In the end, I’d like to find a way to tie all of these things together,” she says, “to combine the ministry, the music and the animals in ways that can help both the people and the animals.”