Year of the Rabbit: Deadly start for impulse pet buys
A clerk holds a rabbit for sale at a Singapore shop.
January 21st, 2011
11:49 AM ET

Year of the Rabbit: Deadly start for impulse pet buys

Dead rabbits are showing up in Chinese mailboxes as pets ordered for the Year of the Rabbit aren’t surviving the shipping process, the Shanghai Daily reports.

The Year of the Rabbit commences on February 3 under the Chinese lunar calendar and bunnies are in demand to celebrate it. One online search showed more than 600 vendors selling rabbits at prices from 15 to 2,000 yuan ($2.25 to $300), Shanghai Daily reported.

But, the paper said, the rabbits can spend five days in shipment and many have suffocated or frozen to death in the small boxes in which they are sent.

At least one vendor had stopped shipments because of the deaths, the paper reported.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals issued a statement from its Shanghai office on Friday urging people not to bring a rabbit into their home for the Chinese New Year.

"Rabbits aren't just cute and fluffy - they're high-maintenance animals who require significant resources, equipment, attention and veterinary care," PETA’s Maggie Chen said in a statement.

"Rabbits are complex animals, and potential caretakers - who often purchase the animals on a whim - rarely understand the specific needs of their new companions," the statement said. “Once the novelty has worn off, many bunnies are neglected, dumped at animal shelters, or simply turned loose in the wild.”

That’s the problem an ocean away from China at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada.

The school is saying unwanted pet rabbits dumped on its campus after February 28 will be killed, according to a report in the Victoria Times Colonist.

The university has been trying to rid its campus of the creatures for two years because of damage to landscaping and playing fields, according to the Times Colonist report. More than 800 have been trapped and moved to sanctuaries, it said.

But people are still seeing the campus as a place to dump their pets so the university is adopting the get-tough policy.

“While UVic is willing to dedicate some resources to rabbit removal, it is unrealistic for the university to divert funding to this task in perpetuity,” facilities management director Tom Smith told the paper.

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Filed under: Animals • Canada • China
soundoff (328 Responses)
  1. Pliny

    'E's passed on! This rabbit is no more! He has ceased to be!
    'E's expired and gone to meet 'is maker!
    'E's a stiff! Bereft of life, 'e rests in peace!
    'Is metabolic processes are now 'istory!
    'E's off the twig!
    'E's kicked the bucket!
    'E's shuffled off 'is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisibile!!

    January 21, 2011 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • CEL367

      I was thinking that while reading the article. I'm happy I'm not the only crazy one!

      January 21, 2011 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chickenhawk

      No, 'e isn't! He's stunned.

      January 21, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • cpc65

      He's pinin' for the fiords.

      January 21, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • AGeek

      "VOOM"?!? Mate, this rabbit wouldn't "voom" if you put four million volts through it! 'E's bleedin' demised!

      January 21, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • BobInIrvine

      I was thinking more of the revenge of the killer bunny in Grail. 🙂

      January 21, 2011 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sanity

      Haha! I was getting prepared from comments by a million people "outraged" by this "atrocious animal cruelty", but I see sanity still prevails. There is still hope for this world! 🙂

      January 21, 2011 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • rob

      Anytime I get worried about China surpassing the US in certain catagories, I read something like this and realize that the country is still very much 3rd world. Who in the world would buy an animal delvered in a box?

      Just stop buying their junk at Walmart and the US economy withh improve overnight.

      January 21, 2011 at 7:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ed

      the last word should have been 'in Visigoth'.

      If you're going to steal from Monty Python's Flying Circus, at least steal it correctly.

      January 21, 2011 at 8:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Elise

      I'll tell you whats wrong with it, it's dead, thats whats wrong with it!!

      January 22, 2011 at 10:02 am | Report abuse |
  2. Jinda

    How flippin' dumb do you have to be to send a rabbit through the mail. And how flippin' dumb do you have to be to buy one.

    January 21, 2011 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • nkm

      My thoughts exactly. Doesn't anyone use their brain anymore?

      January 21, 2011 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Megan

      I assume you mean to buy one through the mail? Rabbits actually make wonderful pets, if you do your research and know what you're doing. The dumb ones are the ones who buy them on a whim for Easter or Chinese New Year or whatever and then abandon it at the first sign of a natural but undesired behavior.

      January 21, 2011 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dolores

      That is how they send baby chickens. The post office doesn't deliver them so the recipient has to pick them up. Many other animals are shipped much like a piece of freight through various freight carriers.

      January 21, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Harvey

      When I was a kid you could buy alligators (actually South American caiman) through the mail in the United States. Most usually ended up riding the rapids down the toilet.

      January 21, 2011 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Just a Thought

      While I think it's ridiculous that they ship rabbits (seriously?), think about this: they ship chicks all over the US in the spring and no one has a fit...

      January 21, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • easter_bunny

      I believe if they shipped the unfortunate animals in BOXES instead of ENVELOPES all of this sadness would not have occurred. 🙁

      January 21, 2011 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • tensor

      Rabbits are very high maintenance. Guessing that very, very few of those bought were actually supposed to live long in the care of new owners. How sad humans still do such stupid things.

      January 21, 2011 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nick

      basically, what you are saying is: How Chinese do you have to be...
      Just add this to the long list of ridiculous things Chinese people do.

      January 21, 2011 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
  3. ScottyB

    5 days of poop and pee in a box?

    January 21, 2011 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • IxNay

      5 days without food or water would mean very little poop and pee. poor little rabbits.

      January 21, 2011 at 7:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • barbara

      thank you, someone with a brain. lets ship these without brains to some third world country in the same size box and see if they make it.... oopppps guess we should have provided better shipping conditions. oh well, toss them in the dumpster and order some more.

      January 22, 2011 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • TK

      That's why they died. 😉

      January 22, 2011 at 9:19 pm | Report abuse |
  4. lee s

    simple, order a male and a female. When they arrive some of the offspring will have died, but some survived. And you can share the extras with a friend. Hey china, ever heard of a pet store?

    January 21, 2011 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Josh

      Ah, great. Would one really want a cannibalistic rabbit? What would you call them, the Donner Party rabbits?

      January 21, 2011 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • UCFknightman

      Rabbits are cannibal, they routine do eat their young and malformed offspring.

      January 21, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • A

      Actually, most pet stores buy from mills, which maltreat animals probably just as much as these Chinese did. So the pet store would not be helpful in this case.

      January 25, 2011 at 11:18 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Li

    You should youtube search for the dog and cat fur trade. It kept me up for many nights angry and sorrowful.

    January 21, 2011 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • nuffsed

      I saw a video of cats and dogs being prepared to be eaten. So disturbing, I will never forget it.

      January 22, 2011 at 3:34 am | Report abuse |
  6. amy

    how terrible. think what it must be like to be trapped in a box for days only to freeze or starve to death.

    January 21, 2011 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Blue Person Group

      Sort of like being confined to an aluminum tube for 8 hours on the tarmac, eh?

      January 21, 2011 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Really?

      @Blue – Not even close dumba$$...

      January 21, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • amy

      it might be.. if they didn't feed you or keep the tarmac heated!

      January 21, 2011 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
  7. will III

    wabbit season!

    January 21, 2011 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Neuro

      duck season!

      January 21, 2011 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Heathgard68


      January 21, 2011 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Chsrx

    ..........Or do they?

    January 21, 2011 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
  9. MikeM

    Mailing animals. That's just stupid. And cruel.

    Try mailing yourself, see how you like it. I bet you won't do it twice.

    January 21, 2011 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • S.V.W

      I tried, the recipient wouldn't pay the charges....thanks mom!

      January 21, 2011 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • 11:11

      Every year, thousands of poultry chicks are mailed across the country. They don't need food or water for four days after hatch and are shipped in numbers to maintain core body temperature. While mailing a bunny isn't a good idea, it works fine with baby chicks.

      January 21, 2011 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • couldubanydumber?

      Chicks aren't mammals. Chicks aren't rabbits. Try to figure it out, bozo.

      January 21, 2011 at 7:05 pm | Report abuse |
  10. rabbit owner in NY

    so sad *:( I have a well-trained and well-groomed bunny rabbit in NY. I dress her-up sometimes (beautiful colorful harness) and take her out for a walk (a hop that is) *:) everyone loves her and I'm Asian LOL!

    January 21, 2011 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Anne

    I'm speechless at the stupidity of the Chinese on this one!

    January 21, 2011 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Utica

      @Anne – It is their tradition and it is not stupid. I'm sure there are lots of White or European descent are stupid too. Atleast, they don't en-slaved other races or try to take over the world.

      January 21, 2011 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • JT

      @Uitca – tradition? Really? So what do they do for the year of the tiger, or the year of the dragon? Do they also take rats as pets? And certainly buying a pet through the mail isn't tradition... I think you might want to rethink that comment.

      January 21, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Utica

      @JT and Anne, I don't think it is a bright idea or humane to mail animal. However, do you people name calling, cursing, or condemn when Western Countries using Animals for Researches. How long did it take for most people here in the USA to appology for Slavery or butchered people around the world?

      January 21, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Johnnycakes

      Utica – read your history. China had slavery and went through empire building, just like Western nations did.

      January 21, 2011 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • China sucks

      its not just stupid, it's retarded. And it doesnt matter if its a tradition, some traditions are retarded. i would tell it to your face that this tradition is incredibly stupid and no political correctness will change that.

      January 21, 2011 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • BrassTacks

      Utica – you are surprisingly stupid. Like a black belt in stupidity stupid! I am truly amazed.

      January 22, 2011 at 12:57 am | Report abuse |
    • Ozzi


      No Utica the Chinese only enslave their own population.

      Where were you during Tienanmen Square?

      January 23, 2011 at 8:26 am | Report abuse |
    • PETA Maniac

      I'm speechless at Utica's stupidity. Like, wow.

      January 24, 2011 at 8:34 am | Report abuse |
  12. elmer f

    kill the wabitt, kill the wabbit.

    January 21, 2011 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • vonStemwede

      One of my all-time favorites! LOL...Oh, Bwunhilda, your'e so wovewy...Yes, I know it. I can't help it!!

      January 21, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
  13. TMTDC

    I dislike some of PETA's extreme stances and campaigns, but the organization is right on the money in this instance. Freezing or suffocating while trapped in a tiny box for days – what a horrible way for any animal to die! I never cease to be incensed by the idiots who buy a pet only to dump it somewhere after they realize how much work caring for an animal entails. I've adopted two cats who were dropped in my neighborhood by lazy/cruel former owners and turned over a dozen such others to our local no-kill cat shelter. If you can't be a committed and responsible owner, don't get a pet!!!

    January 21, 2011 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mara

      Hear! Hear! I'm an animal lover myself – but PETA is often too weirded out for me. And yes, if owners would just be responsible! I have 6 cats – all strays that were dumped in my neighborhood. I ensure they are fixed, first thing. But I've also been saddended by acquaintances who get animals without any thought as to what it entails and then get rid of the pet for some trait they don't want to deal with. I once babysat for a lady in my youth that went through 8 pets in a year – all deposited at the animal shelter when they were deemed undesirable. One poor animal, a small dog, because it jumped on her 2 year old and knocked him down & made him cry. I kid you not. And then those people who "sell" animals – most of them not full pedigree and no papers. Why does ANYONE pay for an animal that is not full pedigree and has no papers??? I am not talking about fees intended to recover the cost of food, shots, or spay/neuter procedures. But the poor little bunnies. What a horrible way to die – and have you seen how most packages are handled? They aren't exactly treated with care.

      January 21, 2011 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Bob

    gotta love the racist remarks against the Chinese on reader comments.

    Stupid yes,
    but saying things like "Well at least they reproduce faster than the chinese so it shouldn't be that bad."

    wow, just wow

    January 21, 2011 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
  15. horsepucky


    January 21, 2011 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
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