Huck and Bandit Caleb and Casper
14-year-old animal-lover, entrepreneur and visionary, Caleb Smith, bought a 22-acre island on the Mississippi River to train comfort rabbits. Caleb is now 17 years old and still going strong with his dream!
This inspiring young man named his land Peacebunny Island and aims to create a magical place for rabbits to live in safety and for visitors to find connection with all that is good and gentle in the world.
Caleb tells us about his bunnies …
Comfort rabbits and their youth guardians go into communities to create joy, peace and calm wherever they go. I call that “hoppiness.” Some of these rabbits get fostered by people who need some extra love in a way that only a bunny can, many on the autism spectrum. We have been to many children’s funerals and to schools impacted by tragedy and/or violence. At times where there is great sadness it feels good to be able to do something. We also take comfort rabbits to senior centers and community events.
It is bittersweet that our rabbits serve at children’s funerals and have travelled nationally to support schools after violence, but we’re grateful to be able to provide some comfort for those in times of grief and loss.
Currently we have a waitlist for my Comfort Rabbits. I think we’ve found a sweet way to create demand for these beautiful breeds. I’m proud to say that our sustainable plan is just as good for the rabbits as those who need some extra love and support.
Why an island?
I wanted a place that was quiet, away from distractions, a place to train the rabbits and our youth staff. Bunnies won’t swim off. Predators don’t swim on. Safe for the kids. Amazing relaxing time on the river. Win-win.
How did you find the island?
I spent a long lazy summer island hopping by canoe and houseboat. Over four months I trekked between an island I began calling “Peacebunny Island” and smaller islets I named Whiskers, Hope, and Hoppiness. I began inviting experts who would help me create a plan that would make the island sustainable and safe for my rabbits, youth guests, and the environment.
The island plan is completely sustainable, using solar energy for a rustic campsite that hosts other youth bunny guardians.
As a 14-year-old, how did you have enough money to buy an island?
The year before I won money through an entrepreneurship contest and that’s how I bought a 43 foot houseboat and initially leased the island. Last summer I lived on the island for four months, testing out my big idea, then surprisingly the owners offered to sell it to me because they loved my idea!
Since then I’ve been continuing to raise funds for the rabbit’s food and care plus the rent for Peacebunny Cottage by bringing the rabbits to fun events. But, I never charge for the comfort rabbits to go out into the community.
In addition to being in middle school, I work hard doing chores to ensure proper care and natural feed for 16 different breeds, including some endangered breeds listed with the Livestock Conservancy.
I’m still floating on air because my dream is real — I own an island that I bought for bunnies!