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. Annameow

    It's a good thing they didn't try to put last year's "year of" animal in mailboxes! RRRRwwwAARRRR

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

    "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.”

    Replace "rabbit" with "dog", and "bunny" with "puppy", and you'll read nothing new.

    January 21, 2011 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Person

      PETA is a one trick pony, they use that argument with every animal issue they bump into.
      (not that it isn't true, but still)

      January 21, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave Down Under

      Very complex animals, and darned tasty too.

      January 21, 2011 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • andrea

      Every type of animal gets mistreated or neglected when the novelty wares off.... this is such a common problem, and now I see it's a worldwide one.

      January 21, 2011 at 8:13 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Pandora247

    Typical of PETA to say don't bring a pet into their home! Bunnies can make great pets, provided the owners are informed of the necessary pet care requirements. The "Year of the Rabbit" is a great time to introduce bunnies to a new home! Obviously mail order is a bad idea!

    January 21, 2011 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |

      Read more closely and pay attention. What PETA is saying is to not bring rabbits into the home simply as a Chinese New Year novelty. They are spot on ... as they are most times, though I'm not always in agreement with the methods.

      This is just plain cruel.

      January 21, 2011 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Brian

    McDonald's should start selling a Bunny Burger.

    January 21, 2011 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Maggie

      But nobody would want to eat Bugs. Seriously, when my brother was stationed on a ship in the Navy, the officer in charge of the mess decks would try to foist rabbit on the sailors. The sailors retaliated by going straight to the peanut butter and bread. When it came to a showdown because there wasn't any peanut butter out and the office refused to supply it, the captain came in, asked what the problem was, and told the officer to give the sailors peanut butter. That was the end of the rabbit meals. It's cheap, yes, but it is not something Americans are used to eating, and rabbit/bunny/lepus has never (and probably never will) catch on.

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

      slow cooked rabbit is soooo good. Not all Americans are afraid to eat "real" food.

      January 21, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • GuerillaGorilla

      @Maggie: The mess officer should have breaded it, fried it, and foisted it off as chicken.

      January 21, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Josh

    Before you condemn the Chinese for shipping rabbits, remember, not too long ago, it was pretty normal for hatched baby chickens to be shipped here in the USA.

    January 21, 2011 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lancer

      It's funny you mention that. I was behind a man at the post office 2 days ago shipping a bunch of small birds in a box.

      January 21, 2011 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • rabbit

      The US has laws that have to be followed when shipping items, China doesnt. They also dont have animal laws, it is completely legal in China to make videos of people torturing animals to death for fetish sites, there are many big businesses that specialize in animal torture for entertainment.

      January 21, 2011 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • China sucks

      Quit trying to change the subject. China is cruel.

      January 21, 2011 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Loriel

    Ahhh...the Chinese again. Almost anytime you hear of some unbelievable animal abuse you can pretty much go to them. It is like the Kevin Bacon all eventually leads to China. I am so glad idiots on this forum think this is amusing. Who the f*&% would mail a living rabbit? I know who! The Chinese!

    January 21, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Loriel

    Oh, and Josh....but when you add it up with everything else they do.....I am sorry but it cannot be denied. I have nothing against the Chinese people. Their government is devoid of emotion regarding the welfare of their own people let alone animals. It is just the way it is.

    January 21, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ben Dover

      who would be into dog fighting, puppy mills, factory farming? ...I know who! The Americans!

      January 21, 2011 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • China sucks

      China lacks empathy, which is a sociopathic quality. This is why they dont have hukan rigys, because their government doeent have the usual human compassion. Those people are living in prisons. With no compassion for people there will be none for animals. The US has specialized shipping services for some live animals that is designed to maintain their life and comfort. These chinese outfits.apparently use the regular mail to save a buck. Go figure. It would be illegal to do that in the US but ot in china. Therefote the US id waaaaaaaaaay better than china on animal cruelty. Also dog fights are illegal, just ask the football player who spent 3-4 years in prison for it. This is for the Chinese here trying to shift the guilt around!

      January 21, 2011 at 6:13 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Blue Person Group

    Wait until next year, when people start finding dead dragons in their mailboxes.

    January 21, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chiefsboss

      It would be better when the dragons survive and eat the people!!!!

      January 21, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kendo23

      Dragons can go a lot longer without food and water so I heard.

      January 21, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • China sucks

      article??? prove it?? Chinese never apologize and they always accuse other nationalities of doing the same f d up things they do. prove it! This article is about China because it's a Chinese thing to do.

      January 21, 2011 at 6:21 pm | Report abuse |
  9. MFH

    Confucious say: use 2-day deliver FEDEX .. no survive UPS Ground.

    January 21, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Gort01

    youre a jerk...when will people learn not to buy aimaks for pets......there are plenty of rabbits and every form of domestic animals in Humane Societys and Shelters in this country....

    January 21, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • 11:11

      Angora Rabbits are domestic and serve a purpose in producing wool. The animals are also not harmed during the process.

      January 21, 2011 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • PETA Maniac

      Angry Rabbits don't produce as much wool.

      January 24, 2011 at 8:31 am | Report abuse |
  11. Blue Person Group

    Hugh Heffner used to run clubs for people who liked Bunnies, right?

    January 21, 2011 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Ronnie Reagan

    For a country that's supposedly so smart, these are some dumb dumb chinese I tell you.

    How much more stupid could they be?

    January 21, 2011 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • H

      about as stupid as the americans buying animals shipped through the mail since we do this also and most people are just unaware of it?

      Go look into how petco/petsmart get their animals to their stores and you may be surprised....

      January 21, 2011 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim

      It's just a numbers game. The percentage of stupid Chinese is the same as stupid Americans but there are more Chinese. And looking at election results I might venture to say that the percentage of stupid Americans is actually greater than Chinese.

      January 21, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  13. haretoday

    PETA: People Eating Tasty Animals.

    January 21, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • H

      mmmmmmm Animals in "PETA" bread


      January 21, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Suz

      Very original.

      January 21, 2011 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Office Fan

      How long did it take you to come up with that one, moron?

      January 21, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  14. H

    Now I have a problem with chinese quality control/human rights/animal rights just as many others do


    I went to go get a bearded dragon recently at petco. I was surprised to hear them tell me they're "out of season"

    out of season I said...what do you mean out of season

    well apparently petco SHIPS THEIR BEARDED DRAGONS IN THE MAIL and they said too many died when they tried to ship them during winter so they can't do it anymore!

    petsmart had them in stock still because they bred them locally, and a reptile specialty store had them in stock because they bred them in-house.

    Mailing animals is not a practice unique to china so before you go bash china remember we're doing it too

    January 21, 2011 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • termlimits

      I don't think the bearded dragon problem is any scale comparable to millions of igno rant chinese getting ready for chinese new years.

      January 21, 2011 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • MrsFizzy

      If we had no regulation of the pet trade in the USA, or any animal welfare standards which some people seem to think are ridiculous anyway, you can bet you would see this kind of thing and more right here in the USA!

      January 21, 2011 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
  15. jesus

    It is terrible people would do this to rabbits. Is there a year of the cat though? That would seem ok.

    January 21, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • termlimits

      Not to cat lovers a hole!

      January 21, 2011 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Office Fan

      @Jesus...Hope you had fun typing your ignorant comment, you're a pathetic d-bag!!

      January 21, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
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