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. Fred's Owner

    I had a huge white rabbit for 7 years. His name was Fred and he was a Giant Angora. I named him after Frederick the Great (Hohenzollern King of Prussia in the 1700s) who ruled according to the principles of enlightened absolutism. My rabbit "Fred" was litter-box trained and would come when I called him. He was also a fan of riding around in the car. He had to be brushed daily or he would get matted, and he would completed shed his coat once a year and for a while looked pretty funny when that was happening. He was a great pet. He did get occasional respiratory infections. I had him for 7 years until he had a stroke and part of his body became paralyzed and then he died several weeks later. Not something you want to buy on a whim and not something you want to buy sight unseen.

    January 24, 2011 at 5:18 am | Report abuse |
  2. Shawn

    Wow.....just when you think China is joining the ranks of civilized society, we learn they allow people to ship live animals in the mail.

    January 24, 2011 at 5:44 am | Report abuse |
  3. PETA Maniac

    No! No No NO! Bunnies must be given $100 each and allowed to vote and drive cars!

    January 24, 2011 at 8:10 am | Report abuse |
  4. Tim

    As per PETA............. Ok time for someone new to speak. PETA at 1 point you had a place in this world but the government has taken you job. I started reading this and saw the word PETA and figured I would leave a message no need to read anymore.

    January 24, 2011 at 8:21 am | Report abuse |
  5. PETA Maniac

    White rabbits are better than black ones.

    January 24, 2011 at 8:30 am | Report abuse |
  6. coastiegirl

    I love animals but.............. PETA, since when is a rabbit a "who."? I thought only humans had the market on that pronoun. As much as we love them and should take care of them, animals are still lesser beings than ourselves– never our equals~

    January 24, 2011 at 8:45 am | Report abuse |
    • NA

      I can't stand PETA, but I've got to say this. Scientifically speaking, HUMANS ARE ANIMALS, and there is no actual hierarchy among "life." To say that humans are higher beings, is just our bias as humans speaking. Having said that, yes our speciocentric nature shines through in terms of grammar, scientific classification etc etc.

      January 24, 2011 at 11:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • coastiegirl

      There most certainly IS a hierarchy in life!!! Plants are greater than rocks (in that they are alive); dogs are greater than plants (in that they are animate); and humans greater than all of these (in that we are rational, "thinking things"). We are the greatest of all material creation because we are material (like the rock), alive (like the plant), animate (like the dog), and, above all else, rational beings. You can't take a cup (i.e. a dog) and equate it to a gallon (i.e. us)– doesn't make sense, does it??? To say otherwise takes away from our dignity as a person. As such, we are called to be stewards of the earth......

      January 25, 2011 at 8:06 am | Report abuse |
    • hiboy00

      coastirgirl, what you said would be true if every human on the earth were half of what they could be. But, because the vast majority of humans are worthless idiots, dogs > plants > humans.

      January 25, 2011 at 10:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Marie

      If we are so wonderful, how can it be that we are so stupid?

      January 25, 2011 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
    • gremlin

      Your rationality is a holdover in unilinear thinking. These are not ordered sets. Can you value a dog, a cat, a horse, differently? There are people that value their pets as dearly (in some cases more dearly) than others value their children. You cannot put an absolute scale on the value of a living organism. It is a false construct.
      As someone stated before, humans are animals. Strictly speaking as a part of the natural world we have no more "right" to exist than a gerbil. We have the means to dominate, that is not the same thing as having the right. And giving ourselves that right still doesn't really give us that right.
      Also as far as a pronoun goes, yeah it can apply to animals and also just about any other living thing. In practice, it's usually reserved for something that is seen as an individual sentient being often with a name.

      January 25, 2011 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Belarius Marek

    Is it me, or do the Chinese seem like over indulged children sometimes? This is not anything racial, it just seems like they do things on a whim and to hell with the consequences. Seriously, ordering rabbits through the mail from thousands of miles away? Or even locally and not have an overnight shipment policy with special care for fragile or live packages? It sounds pretty idiotic to me. Just one more stupid act by mankind. I weep for our future.

    January 24, 2011 at 9:11 am | Report abuse |
    • Carol Reins

      I agree...and if it truly is the Year of the Rabbit...then maybe the Chinese could stop skinning them alive for fur coats...and maybe stop skinning dogs and cats. Their disregard for the treatment of these poor animals makes me sick...and before anyone accuses me of forgetting the atrocities we commit on factory farms,dog-fighting, the states....I'm fully aware and am active in stopping those abuses, including research done on animals( for helping eradicate human diseases..bull)!

      February 6, 2011 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
  8. hecep

    I think Elmer Fudd is at the bottom of all of this.

    January 24, 2011 at 9:24 am | Report abuse |
  9. hecep

    Making the leap from dead rabbits to racism. No surprise as to why the world is so screwed up.

    January 24, 2011 at 9:29 am | Report abuse |
  10. buffy420

    I plan on owning SEVERAL rabbits next year, that way if we get snowed in cause of the end of the world or anything crazy like that, I will have a never ending supply of meat!! 🙂

    January 24, 2011 at 9:48 am | Report abuse |
  11. Chaos

    Only a moron would buy a pet to be sent through the mail.

    January 24, 2011 at 10:07 am | Report abuse |
    • hecep

      What about sea monkeys?

      January 24, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  12. booboobear

    African Lions are dwindling in numbers. Save the big cats!

    January 24, 2011 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
  13. cra

    It is very sad the rabbits died, horrible deaths. However the live bunnies, if you have a boy and a girl, will produce more bunnies and China will have too many bunnies. Rabbits are fortunately very good to eat (high protine and low fat) so about next year this time, China with have a new delicacy Peking Rabbit.

    January 24, 2011 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Stephan

    At least in China they will be eaten.

    January 24, 2011 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Davey Jones

    I ordered 6 Chinese online just to help out around the house, and when I opened the box, 4 of them were dead and the others were covered in feces, urine and the uneaten leftovers. Where's the humanity?

    January 24, 2011 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
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