Belle and Fred Houseman developers of the Cinnamon Rabbit Breed.
The Cinnamon rabbit was actually created accidentally by two children, Belle and Fred Houseman, during the Easter season of 1962 in Missoula, Montana. After crossbreeding their Chinchilla doe and their New Zealand buck, the children’s father, Ellis Houseman, let the children keep one crossbred buck. After joining their local 4-H group, the children were given a Checkered Giant doe and a crossed Californian doe. After mating the crossed buck with each doe, the Californian doe produced one russet-colored bunny in its litter and the Checkered Giant eventually produced two bunnies with this russet-colored fur (one doe and one buck.) Ellis Houseman believed that only purebred rabbits should be kept for show, but he reluctantly allowed his children to keep the pair of russet-colored bunnies from the Checkered Giant’s last litter. The children mated this pair together, and 70 percent of the litter had this new auburn shade of fur, which they began calling Cinnamon.
Ellis noticed this new color and the fur’s excellent sheen, and proceeded to present the rabbits to J. Cyril Lowett, Oregon ARBA Judge and board member at the time. Lowett declared that there was a strong possibility of the rabbits’ ability in becoming an official breed, as there was no other breed like them in the United States. There are a couple of requirements needed for an unrecognized breed of rabbit to become an official breed according to ARBA. The Housemans needed to have their rabbits “passed” by three different ARBA conventions. The Housemans first took their Cinnamons to the ARBA convention in Calgary, Canada in 1969. The Cinnamons were immediately approved, so the family sent them to the 1970 convention in Syracuse, New York. Unfortunately, the family could not attend and therefore sent the rabbits to Syracuse by air freight. During this trip the rabbits contracted a virus that sickened and even killed some of them, and they were not passed by the convention due to their poor form and condition.
In 1971 the Housemans continued their efforts for the Cinnamons to become an official breed, and the family took the rabbits to the 1971 convention in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Again there were some obstacles- the family hit a severe storm and had to abandon their trailer, and a dog broke into their rabbitry, killing three of their best does. However, the rabbits managed to pass the convention with good comments. The family finally reached their goal in 1972, when the rabbits passed their third convention in Tacoma, Washington and were officially recognized and accepted by the ARBA’s Book of Standards.
BELLE HOUSEMAN passed away April 5th 2016 in her home among family. She was 84 years young and lost her battle with breast cancer. The Cinnamon world has lost a wonderful lady and will miss her very much.