Sheep-herding Swedish bunny becomes online hit
STOCKHOLM (AP) -- Champis the bunny doesn't only hop -- he also knows how to herd his masters' flock of sheep, possibly having picked up the skill after watching trained dogs do the job.
The 5-year-old pet rabbit from the small village of Kal in northern Sweden shot to online fame last week, having garnered more than 700,000 YouTube hits so far, after a clip of his sheep herding skills surfaced on a blog.
The June video shows a persistent Champis running back and forth on the farm, trying to keep Nils-Erik and Greta Vigren's sheep together.
Greta Vigren said she first noted his talent last spring when they let out the sheep to graze for the first time after the long Swedish winter.
"He just started to behave like a sheepdog," she recalled, adding that while he likes to round up the sheep, he is consistent about leaving the farm's hens alone, treating them more gently.
"He's like a king for the whole group. He thinks he rules over both the sheep and the hens. He has a very big ego."
Dan Westman, a sheepdog breeder who shot and posted the video of his friends' bunny, said he was in awe when he first witnessed the phenomenon, noting Champis does the job even better than most dogs would.
"It's really incredible, it's a herding rabbit," he said. "He rounds them up, and if they get close to escaping through the gate he sometimes stops them," he said.
"I mean I work with sheepdogs and know how hard this is. There are very few dogs that could do what this rabbit does."
Westman, who's known both Champis and its owners for years, said the beige little mix-breed bunny had never been trained for the job but seemed to have learned the ropes all on his own.
"He's probably picked some of it up from watching the dogs," he said.
Despite his tiny size, Westman said the sheep seem to pay their minder a world of respect, letting him herd them around when he feels they need some moving.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.