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. stan warren

    Buying an animal as a novelty is not a good thing for you or the animal regardless of how it is shipped or what country is involved. I've raised rabbits to go in the freezer while my kids had pet hamsters, guinea pigs, lizard, etc. that came from the pet store. Having something shipped that you might not really want and do not know how to care for is just irresponsible. Mercy, I have having to semi-agree with PETA on anything.

    January 22, 2011 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • EvoDevo

      There is a PETA office in Shanghai. I'll bet they are busy bees!

      January 24, 2011 at 10:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • gremlin

      Agreeing with PETA is not a bad thing. The core of the organization is a good group that does good work. It doesn't mean you have to agree with the crazy radical fringe part of the group as well.

      January 25, 2011 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Linda

      I second everything you said.

      January 25, 2011 at 7:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • tensor

      Agreed. How much better off the planet would be without the stupidest species (and ugliest, considering what comes out of most delivery rooms) that overpopulates and destroys everything in its wake.

      January 26, 2011 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
  2. animallover999

    this is cruel.you are supposed to buy then right then and there at the pet shop!!!!!!!

    January 22, 2011 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • vene

      There are bunny rescues all over the world. It's better to go through a rescue than through a pet shop as most are coming from mills. Getting anything from a pet shop is usually cruel because the lives of the animals in the mills are terrible.

      January 22, 2011 at 10:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • banana

      Lives of animals are pretty terrible anyway, since they are animals.

      January 22, 2011 at 11:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • arrown8606t

      Actually, there are a lot of animals in this world who live fantastic lives, including the bunny snoring on the end of my bed. While it's true that there are people out there who don't have the means or the desire to properly care for their pets, there are many people who love and provide for their pets wholeheartedly.

      January 24, 2011 at 12:04 am | Report abuse |
    • VooDoo MaMa JuJu

      This story seem somewhat pointless. What is all the fuss over a rabbit? Come on folks – it is an animal we're talking about here – not another human being.

      January 24, 2011 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • AlienInWait

      Remember that sentiment when your civilization is approached by one of superior intelligence and technology. You may be the pets. Good to see that you would close the lid on your own box.

      January 25, 2011 at 10:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • RS

      Pet stores are horrible. Get animals at a shelter.

      February 3, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Sonya

    Poor, poor sweet creatures. Maybe it's time, as a planet that we think about all of our actions, along with all of their implications, to avoid harming innocents. Poor, poor dears.

    January 22, 2011 at 8:03 pm | Report abuse |
  4. He Who Juices Cactus

    Send them to Tucson Arizona, they'll turn them into tacos with the lions. Don't belive me? See the horrific story on msnbc entiled "Here kitty ... restaurant offers African lion tacos".

    And no I don't approve of eating bunnies or lions, I'm making a mockery of the Tucson taco vendor who DOES, as should we all.

    January 22, 2011 at 8:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • you choose

      There is an over population, and I'm including myself by the way, of humans. We literally destroy and dominate this whole planet. Animal harms a human, we kill the animals. Human harms a human, we put it on the news. Who cares "Bostongye" if they test on humans. I don't. Sorry... But I'd prefer to victimize an animal than a human. Let's put you in a box for five days and ship you. You should be fine.

      January 23, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kite flyer

      I'm sorry but, how is the shipping of thousands of live rabbits in shoe boxes mitigated by the actions of a misguided taco vendor?

      January 23, 2011 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • David M

      Merl734 – really? Dems would say let lions eat you? Would love to see the logic process that arrived at that conclusion. Exaggerated political rhetoric strikes again – the world is black and white kind of nonthinking. No one is perfect, no one party is therefore perfect. No one has all the answers. We are a democratic republic, and such things run on compromise, on respectful debate. To suggest one party is evil is simplistic. To suggest we should only have one party rule is not patriotic, for it is not the American way (one party rule sounds more like communism, does it not?).

      January 25, 2011 at 10:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Mrs. C.

      Merl734, your comment was so nonsensical and all over the place that I hadly know where to begin to refute your "points". However, all of your whack-a-doo political ranting aside, let me correct your description of how lions hunt. They do not blind their prey and then rip off arms and legs. Anyway, moving on; lions most often kill by clamping their jaws around their prey's windpipe or mouth and nostrils, and then suffocating them. The attack is generally brutal but short, not a prolonged exercise in eye and limb removal with the victim still alive. I'm not saying it's any more fun than your account of a lion hunt, but really, if you're going to use a pointless metaphor on a completely unrelated story, please take a little time to get your facts straight.

      January 25, 2011 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Clay Dowling

      Let me assure you that rabbits are very tasty little animals. And if you grew a garden, you'd be all in favor of eating the little fellows. Or at least employing a cat to eat the rabbits for you.

      January 26, 2011 at 9:37 am | Report abuse |
  5. ConcernedNetizen

    Learning to take care of another living thing is absolutely essential to a balanced life. People with pets, or even house plants, are generally more balanced, and do not have the typical self centered ideology of, "me first, i am the only person on earth".. It's a shame all those bunnies died like that. I guess in china there are no mail rules regarding declaring live cargo.. or they simply are ignored..

    January 22, 2011 at 10:06 pm | Report abuse |
  6. BHIGH

    Ah, the Chinese, all about the profits, and screw anyone or anything that interferes with that. So a few thousand rabbits die, the vendors got their precious yuan!

    January 22, 2011 at 11:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jet Lee, NYC

      Well said Jack!
      But Chinese people suck! We all are Selfish from the core. Even muslims love their pets.
      Buddha bless you

      January 24, 2011 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • RS

      then stop shopping at Wal-mart buying Chinese goods. support USA made and USA jobs!

      February 3, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Susan

    Seriously, are people really this stupid!! Answer: Yes!! Come on, really? Snail mailing live animals...good god, what the heck is wrong people. Ugh, I'm just so disgusted with this story. Stupid, stupid people!!!

    January 23, 2011 at 12:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Mamaw

      Sorry Susan, when I lived on the farm I ordered baby chickens through the mail and they arrived safe and happy. Maybe it is not the mailing, maybe it is the boxes they put them in and the lack of consideration by the post office.

      January 25, 2011 at 10:50 am | Report abuse |
    • Sherry

      Um, mawmaw, in what way do you think baby chicks equate with rabbits? Shipping bunnies is insane. They are extremely sensitive to anything frighterning and can easily have heart attacks and die from fear. (Prey animals, you know...) They are suceptible to temperatures and can die from excessive heat (I forget the exact number, but over about 80 degrees or something low like that is very dangerous to them), and they MUST eat regularly to keep food moving through their gastric system, or they can die from gastrointestinal stasis. I am aghast that anyone would sell rabbits and not know that. (And rabbits can make sweet companions, but they ARE high maintenance and can be EXPENSIVE for medical care. If you choose to eat rabbit meat, that's fine, too - meat rabbits are usually different breeds from the ones commonly bred as pets. People raise all meat animals as pets - so nasty remarks about that are more sad than outrageous.)

      January 25, 2011 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Chicken

    Eat more Bunny.

    January 23, 2011 at 8:28 am | Report abuse |
    • Bunny

      Eat more chicken!

      January 24, 2011 at 2:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Astonished

      It's wabbit season... no, duck season...

      January 24, 2011 at 6:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Fallout

      In my experience, there's not much difference. Fried, they taste almost the same.

      January 26, 2011 at 8:02 am | Report abuse |
    • Clay Dowling

      Fallout, you're doing it wrong. Very different taste in the hands of an even moderately competent cook.

      January 26, 2011 at 9:39 am | Report abuse |
  9. He Who Juices Cactus

    Send them to Tucson Arizona, they'll turn them into tacos with the lions. See the horrific story on msnbc entiled "Here kitty ... restaurant offers African lion tacos".

    January 23, 2011 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
  10. Reginald Kelly

    its unique in my opinion i used to have one

    January 23, 2011 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Merl734

    Rabbits are highly intelligent, very loving animals. As social, highly understanding, aware, spiritual animals, rabbits have emotions similar to our own and can die of emotional distress and a broken heart. It is a terrible thing to send a precious domestic rabbit through the mail. I have kept rabbits as pets for over 20 years and they know their names, understand complex sentences, know many words; have incredible memories and personalities, even create works of art. Rabbits are amazing creatures who love their kind humans and are the most grateful animals. Rabbits often surprise their humans by doing incredible things. For these reasons rabbits should be treasured. Oh, and did I mention that rabbits can get revenge from beyond. Don't think so; then think again and Beware of the Bunny.

    January 23, 2011 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ruby

      Ah yes, I have heard they can walk on water also. Honestly now, have you been taking your medications?

      January 24, 2011 at 1:35 am | Report abuse |
    • Sydney Australia

      Rabbits are spiritual????????

      Me thinks you are projecting.

      January 24, 2011 at 2:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Marie

      Rabbits are gentle and loving with humans that make an effort to take care of them properly.They are more social than cats, but not as active as dogs, they purr and play, and have their own personalities. As for animal cruelty, Americans are as guilty as Chinese: go to any animal shelter and look in the eyes of all unwanted pets – most stare at you with anticipation – "pick me!" Only a few are there due to a valid reason: the owner is too old or sick. So, if you want a pet, get it from a shelter, not a pet store. And one more thing: if you want a companion animal, is it really important that your companion is a purebred animal? Why?

      January 25, 2011 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
    • wolfermom

      I agree as I have had rabbits and a few wild one. I had one that died of a broken heart and another who almost did, but his daughter helped him and he would have nothing to do with another rabbit. What alot of people do not know is that we are the most cruel animal in the world.

      January 25, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mr, Mxlpxtlk

      Merl: GEE ARE YOU A MORON!!! Rabbits can't THINK! They can't form SENTENCES!! That's because they are ANIMALS!! If they were intelligent (the real key defining feature that all non-morons are aware of) they would TELL US!! Don't you think after all these centuries with us, they wouldn't have nosed together some dry clods of poop and spelled it OUT FOR US? JUST MAYBE, HUH MERL? (Good grief, the whole world is becoming remedial)

      January 25, 2011 at 8:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kevin

      I do not know if I would go THAT far with mine, but they definitely are very caring and can get very sad. Mine are a bonded pair and shortly after I adopted them the girl caught a cold. Her nose got partially blocked. She could barely breathe and would not move, eat, or drink. Her brother refused to leave her side the entire time I took care of her. Luckily she recovered in just a couple days and they were back to sprinting around the house and doing binkies.

      January 26, 2011 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Merl734

    Grow up Jack. Stop blaming innocent others and take responsibility for yourself. You cannot undo the past. Everyone faces tough opposition and difficulties every day. If you act like a jerk, people will reject you. If you call them racist, they will reject you and say you are racist. People have the right to their own preferences, politics, and beliefs even they are different than yours and that does not give you the right to call them racist. If you do, you lose.

    January 23, 2011 at 6:25 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Name*frank

    Rabbits stink anyway. Who calls who racist anymore? Seriously, aren't we all past that by now? There is probably like two clan members left in Alabama by now. The world is over it so stop being retarded. One more thing, those rabbits will now feed millions of tiny parasites. Isn't anyone thinking about the children?

    January 24, 2011 at 1:02 am | Report abuse |
  14. jnuey

    how can asians be so good at making electronics , be so stupid with these animals.. eating dogs, freezing rabbits.

    these humans need cages

    January 24, 2011 at 1:23 am | Report abuse |
    • rad

      Do you think Americans are any better? Read about factory farming and slaughterhouse conditions in the US before you judge!

      January 25, 2011 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Ituri

    Ummm... no. Rabbits are not high maintanance, expensive, or need much, if any, vet care in their life. They require a simple, spacious cage, food, hay, water, and love. Thats about it. I've had many rabbits, indoor and outdoor, and they've even been littertrained. Very good little animals, but they are not complicated in the slightest. They're smarter than guinnea pigs, sure, but no more messy or expensive. Peta's just going off the handle again as usual.

    That said... who in their right mind ships a rabbit? Go pick the darned thing up if you want one. They're not hard to find, not anywhere. Stop doing stupid things to innocent animals, use your head, and it'll be fine. But no, lazy people need it shipped to their door. A living animal in a box for 5 days, thats nuts.

    January 24, 2011 at 5:13 am | Report abuse |
    • Marie

      Agree.

      January 25, 2011 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
    • Sherry

      Well, it all depends. If (as did ALL THREE) of the lop rabbits we have owned, they get jaw abscesses, a common problem often associated with genetic dental abnormalities, it can be VERY expensive to take care of them. Two of our rabbits died from the ailment, one after $1500 worth of surgery and treatment. The third was healed, but it took about $3000 worth of medical treatment, laser surgery, and home injections of antibiotics every couple of days for literally months. If you consider that low maintenance, you are a better person than I am! (Of course, many people would kill the animal (or let it die in total misery untended) before spending money like that. I don't think those people should have pets.)

      January 25, 2011 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kevin

      I agree, especially free roam rabbits. They are about as much maintenance as a cat except they require less vet visits and treatments. Then again there are the cases like Sherry mentioned where they can be expensive. A vet this weekend told me that lops are generally more prone to health problems. There are also complications if they are not spayed or neutered, but pet rabbits should be unless they are specifically for breeding.

      January 26, 2011 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
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