I Photographed Ex-Lab Animals As Characters From The Little Prince To Help Them Find Homes


They were born and bred as “test animals”; just before being euthanized, they have been recovered by Italian charity La Collina dei Conigli, and now, while waiting for a lovely forever home, adorable rescued rabbits, rats, guinea pigs and mice are performing their very own version of “The Little Prince” in a series of pictures to raise more awareness about animal rights and adoptions.

Animals and photography are my greatest passions in life, so I’m always very happy to help charities like La Collina (located in Monza, near Milan); last year I had realized a photoshoot inspired by Alice in Wonderland and this year we got inspiration from “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

So I’ve photographed some of the 34 rabbits, 146 guinea pigs, 952 mice and 226 rats lovely cared after by volunteers, and now those pictures have been featured in a wall calendar to raise funds for this stunning charity. For over 10 years, La Collina’s volunteers have rehabilitated hundreds of ex-labs animals, until the final, priceless step: adoption and a serene new life with a loving human family.

Just a small number was rescued from abandon or severe neglect. Most of the rescues had been used in labs for painful tests and without volunteers would have been euthanized at the end study; Italian law allows registered charity to rescue and rehabilitate them, and that’s what La Collina does.

If you wish to know how you can help (you can also support through distance adoption) please get in touch with charity volunteers; and if you want to know better so many beautiful models, please enjoy my pictures (with stories and “behind the scenes”) below!

More info: Facebook

“It is such a mysterious place, the land of tears”

Pollicina is a female rat rescued from a lab. This picture was taken in the Rat room with the help of volunteer Fulvio. First another rat-model tried to enter the wooden toy plane, but he was a little too chubby! Pollicina fitted perfectly instead. Some “stars” are biscuit crumbs!

“My drawing was not a picture of a hat. It was a picture of a boa constrictor digesting an elephant”

Inedita is a fluffy guinea pig rescued in the middle of nowhere with other companions. She was a perfect model!

The snake/hat was painted by volunteer Michela (who drew also the calendar artwork) while I was taking other pictures in the Rat room.

“I wonder,” he said, “whether the stars are set alight in heaven so that one day each one of us may find his own again…”

Livia is a fabulous New Zealand rabbit: she was used in lab tests, as the number tattoed on her ear still testifies. Now she’s been adopted by a lucky family!

The stars were common Christmas lights, and a volunteer supervised the scene to avoid tasting (as you can guess from her face, Livia was quite bewitched).

“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly”

Mouse Bellicapelli is a nude mouse: a breed created in labs with genetic mutation that causes a poor immune system. Many think that nude mice are “little monsters”, but definitely not – and he’s been adopted by volunteer Fulvio, who felt in love with him during the photo-shoot!

“You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed”

Kaori is a young handsome black rabbit with amazing icy eyes. He was dumped at a dog shelter before being taken to la Collina. He’s still looking for adoption.

The starry backdrop is my favorite fleece blanket, while the glass jar is volunteer’s Giulia muffin display.

“I believe that for his escape he took advantage of the migration of a flock of wild birds”

Betulla is a clever tiny mouse used in lab tests. Sadly many of her companions didn’t manage to survive.

We used volunteer Eleonora’s bath mat and crepe paper as the background, plus Photoshop for adding a couple of wooden birdies.

“Where I live, everything is very small…”

Falbalà is furry and soft as a cloud, and luckily she was adopted a few days before launching the calendar! Contrary to the novel, here the sheep is outside the box…

“When he lights his street lamp, it is as if he brought one more star to life or one flower”

Betty and Spaghetti are two funny rats full of resources. Both of them come from lab tests. I think that this is my favorite picture: first I love rats, and second their pose and expression is simply amazing!

For the lamplighter scene, we used starry glued paper as a backdrop, a garden solar lamp, and some drops of yogurt to attract our models.

“Of course, an ordinary passerby would think my rose looked just like you. But my rose, all on her own, is more important than all of you together”

Romina is a lion-head rabbit who suffers from a paralysis of the rear legs after an accident. She’s very brave, a little bit stubborn and simply beautiful!

“Other steps send me hurrying back underneath the ground. Yours will call me, like music, out of my burrow”

Perseo was bred as a meat rabbit with his siblings. Luckily all of them were given to volunteers. Perseo had been adopted, but after some months he was taken back to La Collina and now he looks for his forever home.

The backdrop was hand-drawn and painted by Tiziana and Michela; during the photo-shoot they were holding it, while Eleonora encouraged Perseo to exit from the tunnel below.

“Has the sheep eaten the flower or not?”

Soya and Lucy live with other small female mice. All of them were rescued after they were used for tests.

The planet was handmade by Tiziana and Michela.

“It has done me good,” said the fox, “because of the color of the wheat fields”

Ginger (the albino guinea pig) was used in lab test; Clotilde (on the right) was abandoned in a plot of land with dozens of others. They’re both looking for adoption.

The wheat was harvested a couple of days before the photo-shoot, and the guinea pigs became very noisy every time we touched it – they hoped it was some new food!

“The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or touched, they are felt with the heart”

Logos arrived one year ago; his previous owner could not take care of him anymore. He’s gentle and handsome, but he seems invisible and there hasn’t been a single adoption request yet. But we believe that his human soul mates are somewhere… and that they will be able to see that the essential is invisible to the eyes, but not to the heart.


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