This Adorable Giant Rabbit Comforts Anxious Travelers at the San Francisco Airport

 

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Travel my can be an anxiety-inducing experience, whether you are afraid of flying, nervous about your trip itinerary, or simply missing people and pets back home. Luckily, there are ways to cope. Some say there’s nothing like the calming presence of an animal to ease the nerves. This is the idea behind the San Francisco International Airport’s Wag Brigade. The program brings therapy-certified animals into the airport’s terminals to provide comfort and diversion to distressed passengers. While many of the brigade’s pets are more traditional therapy animals likes dogs, they’ve recently been joined by a surprising new addition: a 28-pound Flemish Giant rabbit named Alex the Great.

Founded in 2013, the Brigade now consists of 16 unique animals—14 dogs, Alex the rabbit, and a pig named Lilou. The program’s mission is a simple, impactful one: to make passenger travel more enjoyable. Naturally, the most important aspects of this goal are the faces of the program, the pets themselves. Each one is certified through the San Francisco SPCA’s Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) Program, and is selected specifically for its temperament and airport suitability.

Flemish Giants, the largest breed of domestic rabbit, are known for their friendly, easygoing nature and patience when being handled. These are the qualities that make Alex perfect for the job. Identifiable by his Wag Brigade “Pet Me!” vest, he roams the airport in his stroller, offering a soothing presence and quality time to uneasy travelers.

Though he now lives with a loving family and gets to share that love by interacting with people, it wasn’t always that way. Alex was rescued from a central California rabbit farm, where he was living under harsh conditions. “He was covered in fleas and his fur was matted,” describes his co-owner, Josh Row. Fortunately, Row was able to persuade the farmer into letting him purchase Alex for “a significant amount of money.” He then took the rabbit home and nursed him back to health. “We cared for him,” Row explains, “and he got healthy, and we quickly saw he had a one-in-a-million personality.”

After Alex earned his AAT license, he was eligible to apply for a spot on the Wag Brigade. It seemed unlikely that a rabbit would qualify, since the requirements were originally designed for dogs, but Alex passed with flying colors. Now, as an official member of the Brigade, he visits the airport two to three times a month, always greeted by surprise and delight.

You can follow along on Alex the Great’s airport visits and other adventures through his Instagram.

This adorable 28-pound rabbit, named Alex the Great, is the newest therapy animal to join the San Francisco Airport’s “Wag Brigade.”

 

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These special animals roam the airport’s terminals, offering comfort to anxious travelers.

 

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A post shared by SFOWagBrigade (@sfowagbrigade)

Alex is a Flemish Giant, a breed known for its friendliness and patience.

 

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A post shared by Alex (@alex.thegreat100)

Who wouldn’t want cuddles from this gentle giant?

 

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A post shared by Alex (@alex.thegreat100)

San Francisco Wag Brigade: Website | Instagram
h/t: [Travel + Leisure]

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