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Preston County pet finalist in Cadbury Bunny search

RedBird the guinea pig had a rough start to life, but now she’s on a journey to become the next Cadbury Bunny — and all she needs is your votes.

The little blind rodent is a top-10 finalist in this year’s bunny search competition.

RedBird’s owner Jennifer Wilson, of Terra Alta, said her beloved pet was rescued from a hoarding situation. The tiny red-and-white furball was one of 36 guinea pigs removed from a home as part of a police investigation.  

Wilson didn’t know many details about the conditions in which RedBird began her existence, but, “you know it’s bad if police get involved in a guinea pig hoarding situation, because they will get involved with dogs or cats, but a lot of people don’t give guinea pigs the respect they deserve.”

The animals were brought to the Metropolitan Guinea Pig Rescue in the Baltimore and D.C. area, where it was discovered RedBird was not only blind but also pregnant.

Wilson said while at the rescue, RedBird lost two of her pups that were stillborn and, being blind, was continuously searching the cage for them. 

“The rescue director said it was the most pitiful thing she had ever seen,” Wilson said.  “RedBird was so depressed. She would just sit and face the corner and didn’t want to interact with anyone.”

RedBird needed a special home and Wilson, a lifelong guinea pig lover, said the moment she saw RedBird’s picture on the rescue’s website she knew she wanted to adopt her.

RedBird was so sick Wilson said she had to wait months to be able to bring her home.

That was almost two years ago. Since then, Wilson and her family have made a loving home for RedBird — who is now set up with baby bumper pads around her cage so she doesn’t bump her nose and even a special food bowl that has silicon, so she can feel when she is near her food source.

Being blind, Wilson said RedBird uses sound to help navigate her world. Her name in fact comes partly because she is red in color but also because she makes little clucking sounds like a chicken as part of an echolocation technique.

Wilson said they also do a lot of things with RedBird using music. A certain song playing means it’s time to come out of the cage, or time to cuddle.

“Her going-home song is ‘Truckin’’ by the Grateful Dead,” Wilson said, “and the moment she hears that she’s like OK, I am ready to go home.

“We do what we can to make the world a little easier for her,” she said.

In her spare time, Wilson said RedBird enjoys treats and food and can even be “a little bossy.” She also has a best friend, Pippy, who Wilson jokes is her “seeing-eye pig.” 

“One time RedBird was asleep and we slipped Pippy a treat,” Wilson recalled. “She ate half the cookie and then she looked over at RedBird sleeping, then went and got RedBird to give her the other half of the cookie.”

Wilson said she has entered a guinea pig in the Cadbury Bunny search for the past five years and even entered RedBird last year, but this is the first year one has been selected as a finalist.

“It’s really exciting,” she said. “There were thousands and thousands of entries from all across the United States and they narrowed it down to 10.”

In fact, Hershey confirmed RedBird is the very first pet from West Virginia to be a top-10 finalist in the contest.

“The fact that she is the very first makes her special and the fact that she is blind, that also makes her special,” Wilson said. “I would just love to see West Virginia represented in the Cadbury commercial because this is such an iconic ad character — everybody knows who the Cadbury Bunny is, it’s like Tony the Tiger or the Pillsbury Doughboy — you just know.”

If RedBird gets enough votes and wins the contest, in addition to being the star of the new Cadbury Bunny commercial, the Metropolitan Guinea Pig Rescue will receive a $5,000 grant, and a cash prize for Wilson as well.

“It’s a great situation to win because first off, having your pet in the Cadbury commercial is something you could never buy,” Wilson said. “It’s one of those priceless experiences.”

RedBird needs all the votes she can get to win that ultimate prize and individuals can vote for her once a day through March 14 at www.cadburytryouts.com/vote.

“The fact that a West Virginia pet made it this far is pretty cool,” Wilson said, “and it would be even cooler if West Virginia would be represented in the commercial by RedBird.”

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