Just in time for Easter, the Seattle Times reports that Central Park’s once considerable rabbit population has decreased to a precious few or maybe none at all. Over the past four years, those adorable critters of fact and fairy tale appear to have moved on (or, perhaps, passed on) to greener pastures; indeed, Peter Cottontail himself has probably relocated.

Cottontails had been living in the region that became Central Park long before the park was established nearly 161 years ago. The park contains abundant food sources and protective thick brushes suitable for rabbit habitation. That is why wildlife officials are puzzled as to why the cottontails have abandoned Central Park alone…no other NYC park has been similarly abandoned by its friendly Lepus community.

While some experts believe that the rabbits are being killed or frightened off by other animals (raccoons, cats or, park newcomers: coyotes, for instance) others believe that disease is responsible. Yet there are others who feel that many cottontails are, for whatever reason, simply “hiding out” in the park.  Sarah Aucoin, director of Urban Park Rangers, said that because bunnies “mate like rabbits,” if there are still a few, “we’ll see an increase, definitely…. Only time will tell.”