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. Ever hear of a Pet Shop?

    You want a rabbit for the Chinese New Year, fine, but for crying out loud, MAIL ORDERING an animal that will be shipped to you in a box? That's horrific. Just go to a pet store or a breeder! Sheesh. Good thing this isn't the year of the tiger.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:10 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Michele C

    No animal should be transported through the mail. This is so inhumane, and I cannot imagine any living creature arriving in good health. Rabbits, especially, have very delicate systems and react very strongly to stress. I cannot imagine the stress of being shut up in a package for five days, without food or water. Rabbits' systems will shut down and they will die an agonizing death.

    Yes, I believe we should not use animals as food, for clothing or experimentation. However, even if you do believe in using animals for these things, it's my hope that you want the animals to be treated in a humane fashion. I know this is not the case, sadly. Animals are exploited in many ways. If we claim to be the human race, we need to begin treating not only animals, but also other humans, in a humane way.

    I pray that China will reconsider having rabbits shipped to them to celebrate the Year of the Rabbit. Also, the breeders/shippers should cease shipping them (and any other animals) immediately. But sadly, the only thing most of these people are considering is the almight dollar $$$. Very sad indeed.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • nuffsed

      $$$ is also the reason why toxic chemicals such as melamine end up in milk, baby formula, and toothpaste that ends up here in the US. There were also cheapie flip flop sandals making the rounds at discount stores that were causing peoples feet to blister and exhibit an allergic reaction. Once again, made in china. They play games with consumers health, all for a buck. Obviously there's no FDA in china.

      January 22, 2011 at 3:46 am | Report abuse |
  3. Meejoo Hwang CANNOT put an animal in a box and ship it and expect it to survive the process of shipping....sooooooo unwise...poor bunnies =(

    January 22, 2011 at 12:30 am | Report abuse |
  4. Alyssa

    How terrible for all those people who ordered rabbits for the new year! Imagine if you were a parent who ordered one for your child, only to have it show up dead on your doorstep. Just a little awkward. On that note, I want to know how's bright idea it was to ship rabbits in small boxes through the mail? I can just see how that conversation at corporate went:

    CEO: Well, the economy's been rough, we simply can't afford to hire people to deliver these rabbits.

    Employee: But we can't keep them. What can we do?

    CEO: I've got it! We'll use those new flat-rate boxes and ship them in those!

    Employee: Won't that kill the rabbits?

    CEO: Nah!

    (Five days later.....)

    January 22, 2011 at 1:35 am | Report abuse |
    • Alyssa

      Whoops, that should be "whose bright idea", now "how's"

      January 22, 2011 at 1:36 am | Report abuse |
  5. SilentBoy741

    "Rabbits aren't just cute and fluffy – they're high-maintenance animals who require significant resources, equipment, attention and veterinary care,"

    Much like PETA advocate Pamela Anderson.

    January 22, 2011 at 1:43 am | Report abuse |
    • PETA Maniac

      She likes her tummy rubbed.

      January 24, 2011 at 10:06 am | Report abuse |
  6. Amar

    with limited human rights ...... its a tough fight for animal rights people in china

    January 22, 2011 at 4:21 am | Report abuse |
  7. Frank

    I could imagine...poor kid gopes to mailbox to get holiday rabit- comes in the house with a maggoty handful of stinking fur..Happy Holidays!

    January 22, 2011 at 6:09 am | Report abuse |
  8. Sam

    Hmmm...sounds a lot like people who buy puppies, and when they grow up and are no longer those cute little bundles of fur, they are left on the side of the road somewhere. Pets are a commitment, not a disposable commodity, but unfortunately, many people don't view it that way. That speaks very highly of their values...of lack thereof...

    January 22, 2011 at 7:03 am | Report abuse |
    • Ituri

      What ethnocentric nonsense. It speaks to your morals and ethics in YOUR culture, not everyone elses. Also, rabbits are not dogs. They don't get bought, get huge, and get abandoned in droves. Rabbits also don't live as long as dogs, and rarely serve the same pet functions as dogs. Your comparison and box-minded cultural limitations are silly.

      January 24, 2011 at 5:18 am | Report abuse |
  9. Dan

    The perfect gift for the child whose pets keep running away

    January 22, 2011 at 8:12 am | Report abuse |
  10. Christopher Dycha

    Funny how self interest groups are selectively outraged. This wasn't news when it was the year of the rat. Christopher Dycha

    January 22, 2011 at 8:14 am | Report abuse |
  11. andrew Lambdin

    a country that does not have human rights isn't going to get on the rabbit bandwagon anytime soon.

    January 22, 2011 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
  12. This Guy

    asians are so stupid..

    January 22, 2011 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • PETA Maniac

      Humans are so stupid.

      January 24, 2011 at 8:34 am | Report abuse |
  13. Richard Thomas

    Rabbit connoisseurs should have a field day collecting the little critters off the UVic campus. After all there is Rabbit Stew, chicken fried Rabbit, Roast Rabbit with vege's. So many recipes and so little time.

    January 22, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  14. WillardS

    PETA is right, its ridiculous and irresponsible to bring a live rabbit into your home just to celebrate and ensure good fortune for the new year. All you need is the foot.

    January 22, 2011 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Einstein

    Maybe it should be renamed the year of the morons?

    January 22, 2011 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse |
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