When a rabbit goes to Washington, DC

United States Vice-President Mike Pence’s wife Karen (with the family rabbit Marlon Bundo) illustrated children’s book Marlon Bundo’s A Day In The Life Of The Vice-President.
United States Vice-President Mike Pence’s wife Karen (with the family rabbit Marlon Bundo) illustrated children’s book Marlon Bundo’s A Day In The Life Of The Vice-President.PHOTO: WASHINGTON POST
United States Vice-President Mike Pence’s wife Karen (with the family rabbit Marlon Bundo) illustrated children’s book Marlon Bundo’s A Day In The Life Of The Vice-President.
United States Vice-President Mike Pence’s wife Karen (with the family rabbit Marlon Bundo) illustrated children’s book Marlon Bundo’s A Day In The Life Of The Vice-President.PHOTO: WASHINGTON POST

WASHINGTON •Marlon Bundo, one of the most popular members of the Trump administration, is flipping through the pages of a new book.

Hang on, do not get hopping mad if you think this is fake news.

Marlon really exists, but he is a rabbit. The real-life pet of United States Vice-President Mike Pence and his wife Karen is actually turning the pages with his teeth.

"Reading" in the sunroom of the vice-presidential residence, Marlon is ridiculously cute and appears to be fully aware of that fact.

And why not?

After all, this is a rabbit with his own Instagram account that has almost 17,000 followers.

And now he has a new children's book, Marlon Bundo's A Day In The Life Of The Vice-President, a hop through official Washington through the eyes of a fluffy black-and-white leporid.

"He is a star," says Mrs Pence, who illustrated the book, which was written by her daughter Charlotte.

"He really is adorable."

He is also one lucky bunny.

Marlon would have lived a quiet life of grass-nibbling but for a twist of fate.

Five years ago, Charlotte was a freshman at DePaul University and needed a rabbit for a student film project.

She found a cute one on Craigslist, the classified advertisements website, then cast him in a starring role as a symbol of rebellion in a world of conformity.

Turns out he was a natural actor.

"He really does pose," Charlotte says. "It's really funny."

Her roommate thought they should name him after actor Marlon Brando. Charlotte tweaked it to Bundo because that was a pun she could not refuse.

Fast forward to 2016, when her father was elected vice-president and the Pences moved to Washington.

Charlotte and Marlon came along for the ride and soon the rabbit had a following of political fans and pet rabbit owners, who noted that Marlon needed his nails clipped after his first photo appeared online.

Marlon made his first public appearance at an event honouring military families last May, where he upstaged even the Vice-President.

Charlotte wanted to write an educational story explaining what exactly Mr Pence does all day because most children do not really understand what the job entails. She wrote the story in verse and persuaded her mother, an award-winning watercolour artist, to do the illustrations.

For years, Mrs Pence created paintings of people's homes and her watercolour of the Naval Observatory, the Vice-President's official residence, now hangs in the sunroom.

For this book, she began painting the White House and the Capitol, then figured out how to put Marlon in each scene.

Proceeds from the book will be donated to Tracy's Kids, an art-therapy programme at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis, and A21, a non-profit entity aimed at ending sex trafficking.

Marlon, who sticks close to Washington these days, will make a few public appearances to act as a marketing carrot to promote the book, but has not announced where or when.

It depends on whether he is having a bad hare day, one supposes.

WASHINGTON POST

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 19, 2018, with the headline 'When a rabbit goes to Washington, DC'. Print Edition | Subscribe