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. termlimits

    Looks like animals ordering animals, and the one buying don't have the sense of the one they bought!! Shameful!

    January 21, 2011 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jeff Frank

    I not responsible for China having over one billion people. Who like rabbit now!

    January 21, 2011 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |

    Sad to say, go buy a fish/bird/reptile/hermit crab at a Petco or Petland and you can bet your yearly paycheck that the poor animal was shipped. Many of these guys arrive barely alive and that's why many never survive more than a few days after you get them home.

    Sucks...can't count how many I've rescued from the local Petland.

    January 21, 2011 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chiefsboss

      If everyone was informed enough to stop buying animals from those places, they would be forced to stop selling them.

      January 21, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • JT

      oh my, the poor fish and hermit crabs! Get real, these animals live in a confined space their entire lives, they are not being mistreated by spending a few days in a slightly different box. Even the birds and the reptiles live in a box not too much bigger than what they were shipped in.

      January 21, 2011 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • andrea

      When you go to these stores, you're part of the problem. Please don't buy there.

      January 21, 2011 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse |
  4. MStired

    I am speechless on stupidity of human beings in general. Look at the people making comments here. Really.
    Any more enlightened than people over there? I doubt it.

    H, I know what you are talking about. But people always think that they are better.

    January 21, 2011 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
  5. josh

    you really are ridiculous, you cant mix sweet and sour with soy sauce.. you jerk

    January 21, 2011 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
  6. HawaiiGal

    I am so proud of PETA for getting the word out in China to not impulse buy rabbits. I don't agree with some of PETA's more extreme views. But in this case they are being a true friend to animals and trying to prevent the pain and suffering of rabbits. As a rabbit owner who knows just how delicate this guys are, I am so saddened by the needless neglect and suffering that will come to rabbits that are bought on a whim by owners who have no clue nor care how to best treat them. I read everything I could on rabbits when I adopted my "rescue" and though a long time animal person, I was really surprised at the long list of foods that rabbits should never eat. They have a specialized digestive system. And bunny behaviors and reactions are very different to carnivores such as dogs. Furthermore, to those that say bunnies make good pets, I love mine, but I am a mature adult who knows to lower my expectations of what a rabbit is like versus a dog (I am a dog trainer). Rabbits quickly become neglected by most owners, as they really can be "dull" compared to dogs and cats. And very, very easily injured by children holding them as well as dropping them when a scared rabbit bites and claws desperately to get away. Rabbits take enormous amount of tender treatment to trust you. Please don't get a rabbit as a pet until you have met pet bunnies, spent time with them, researched and are sure you really want to live with a rabbit and will take the time and effort to let it run every day in your house. And you just cannot be grossed out by rabbit pee and poop spread around when they are running around the house . That is jsut what they do . In fact it is an adaptation so rabbits can find their way back to their dens so they poo as they move about. While some rabbits can be litter trained, many simple never will be and you cannot get mad at a rabbit for that. So please think carefully before adding a rabbit to your family.

    January 21, 2011 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • GuerillaGorilla

      I've had rabbits in the past myself. Of course they were only breeders for the express purpose of filling my freezer, but they did take a large amount of care to keep. Sadly a building fire ended all that.

      January 21, 2011 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • TK

      You seem like a rabbit expert, so I'd like your advice please: Is it better to cook rabbit on a grill or to boil it? Please let me know soon. I'm hungry. Thank you. Long Duck Dong.

      January 22, 2011 at 9:31 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Julie

    Rabbits make wonderful pets! I know-I have two now and had lots of them growing up, however, I do recommend that anyone wanting a pet rabbit do a little research online. They are not the same as owning a cat or dog, but they can be great additions to your family. Our two dogs get along great with our rabbits. Our rabbits frequently want "cuddle time" and love the chance to run around the house (supervised, of course). We get lots of enjoyment from watching them run around and interact with us and our dogs. They are much smarter than some people think!! How sad that people thought rabbits could be sent thru the mail............poor bunnies!

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

    One word:


    January 21, 2011 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Suz

    This is unsurprising. China does not have a long, celebrated history of being kind to anything living – human or otherwise. They eat dogs and cats, and they'll use/abuse anything with fur for the fur industry.

    I think it was Gandhi that said you could judge a nation by the way they treat their animals. I think it's good advice.

    January 21, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Thom

      Ghandi probably didn't eat beef – so he 'd probably think most Americans were barbarians too.

      January 21, 2011 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Suz

      I am inclined to agree with him. I don't eat any meat, fish or poultry. The way the meat industry works is disgusting, and I want no part of it.

      January 21, 2011 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alex

      "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated." ~ Mahatma Gandhi

      January 21, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
  10. LaneV

    Well at least you get four lucky rabbit's feet.

    January 21, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Eric

      Well the rabbit didn't have too good of luck and he had two rabbits feet.

      January 21, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • AGeek

      If your rabbit only had two feet to start with, it was born unlucky.

      January 21, 2011 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Sara

    This is sad. Buying a pet on a whim is foolish and cruel. A pet is a lifelong responsability.

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


      January 21, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Doc

    This article just goes to show that stupidity and cruelty are not limited to just one country. The entire world is filled with people who don't give a damn about anyone or anything besides themselves and their own idiotic whims. What kind of a moronic jerk would put a live animal in a box and drop it in the mail? THose people should be put in a box and dropped off a bridge.

    January 21, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Henry

    Shipping live animals is nothing new, US do this all the time, actually I bet those chinese stores were just following US method since most of their business model were US origin.......

    January 21, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
  14. opinion

    I agree. I hear nothing but horror stories from Asia regarding inhumane treatment of animals.

    January 21, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jack

      Western countries have been using ANIMALS for their research for YEARS...Haven't you think of that? NO, because White can do anything and nothing would go wrong. HYPOCRITE....I'm not Chinese, When you White people are going to stop being a racist? Look around you!

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

      Yeah you know why? Because its better than doing research on people. Which of course we do too from time to time.

      January 21, 2011 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • why not

      Jack, you stop being racist. not all white people abuse animals and many, many of us are trying to get laws passed to stop using animals in research.

      January 22, 2011 at 10:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ituri

      You do realize that you're the one leaving racist comments against white people, right? Or do you think that doesn't count?

      And we know for a fact that China has a far worse animal treatment issue than the USA. Even in animal testing labs in the USA, there are strict guidelines about how you treat the animal, how it can be killed, etc. Its not brutal here for them any longer, save the few ridiculous hold outs that think they're above the law. China can't say the same.

      January 24, 2011 at 5:15 am | Report abuse |
    • Belarius Marek

      Oh just go bugger off you racist.

      January 24, 2011 at 9:12 am | Report abuse |
    • Jack

      Horror stories are invading Iraq, and Afganistan, inhumane is Guatanamo Bay, butchered women and childen in Iraq, and Afganistan. Oh I forgot, using Animals for research in Western Countries....Oh they do no wrong...They are WHITE people.

      January 21, 2011 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • GuerillaGorilla

      @Jack: And you are nothing more than a stupid white kid trying to sound black, and basically being a troll... And as I am the only one to post a reply to you, you have failed at even that. Go back to playing Angry Chickens on your iPhone4 instead of acting the fool on these forums.

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

      Please point out a single point Jack said that was wrong.
      You racists are just don't like be told the truth, do you?

      January 21, 2011 at 6:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • bostongye

      OK.... All of them.

      January 21, 2011 at 7:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • B. A.

      How did an article pointing out the inhumane treatment of animals become fodder for anti-racist diatribes when there was no racism in it? Are you people so obsessed with your race that you cease to feel like "people". It's a damn shame that these poor innocent animals are abused and mistreated for real – not like your imaginary "I'm a victim that's why I'm lazy, narcissistic, and greedy." KNOCK IT OFF ALREADY. TIME FOR NEW SCHTICK.

      January 22, 2011 at 9:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • TK

      Well said B.A.!!

      January 22, 2011 at 9:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • NA

      Well said, B.A.!

      January 25, 2011 at 12:00 am | Report abuse |
    • Kendo23

      Wow Jack, do you even know who you are? I don't think so....because you don't know Jack.

      January 21, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ozzi

      Isn't Jack a white name?

      January 23, 2011 at 8:24 am | Report abuse |
  15. Marko

    Compassion still has not arrived in any great amount in this part of the world. Not at all for the animal kingdom.

    January 21, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
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