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UEA rabbits to star on the BBC

Fri, 01 Jun 2012

The University of East Anglia's rabbit population has been part of the world's longest behavioural study, and now they will be seen by millions when the life of the colony is showcased on BBC television on June 5 and 6.

A BBC crew spent a number of days at the university in May, filming the rabbits at various places on campus including on 'Waveney Mountain', the hill next to the Colman House accommodation block.

Production teams from The One Show and Springwatch were accompanied by conservation biologist Dr Diana Bell, from the university's School of Biological Sciences.

Dr Bell said: "Both teams were impressed by the fact that the rabbits were not disturbed by the large amount of people who are on campus daily, including the students who were playing frisbee next to them!

"The cast was mainly the Waveney Mountain colony, which performed on cue with mate-guarding of doe by a dominant buck, and an abundance of baby rabbits.

"Unfortunately it is a sad fact that between 60-100 per cent of these will die when the annual outbreak of myxomatosis arrives."

The disease is not the rabbits' only problem. The crew also filmed a regular visitor to the colony - a fox - hunting for prey and catching a baby rabbit.

The Springwatch footage will focus on shots of rabbit behaviour that the public may not have seen before.

Dr Bell said: "The story that the two programmes will tell reflects some of the findings of my 30 year rabbit research programme at UEA, the longest study worldwide."

The footage is scheduled to air on The One Show on Tuesday, June 5 from 7pm on BBC1, and on Springwatch on Wednesday, June 6 from 8pm on BBC2. All programming is subject to last minute changes.