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The Bunnies of the Bird World

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—-Read One Green Planet’s article!

The Bunnies of the Bird World
Marji Beach, Education Director

Meeting Twiggy and her four romping friends, it is hard to believe that a week ago, they lived in individual wire cages, their babies stolen and slaughtered. They are five of twenty-eight rabbits saved from a farm phasing out its rabbit “meat” division.

Your gift of $15 today will help all five rabbits get spayed.

Rabbits are one of the most exploited species, in terms of ways humans utilize their bodies and skins. Their plush fur is stripped from their warm bodies after slaughter and sold to make coats and other fashion accessories. Many are used for vivisection. They are popular companion animals but regularly neglected and abandoned at shelters. And more than a million, like Twiggy, are slaughtered each year to supply restaurants or sold as companion animal food.

Is she a bunny or is she bird?

In the United States, rabbits are classified as birds. Yes, birds. Since chickens and turkeys are excluded from the two federal laws offering minimal protection to farmed animals, so are rabbits.

The most important one, the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, requires protected species be rendered insensible to pain before being killed. The law excludes birds and rabbits, meaning more than 90% of all animals slaughtered in the United States are often killed fully conscious.

To be clear, there is no kind way to kill someone who wants to live and even protected species face horrific treatment and a needless death at the slaughterhouse.

And while some states do mandate inspection of dead rabbits, live rabbits are routinely handled and killed in heinous manners.

Undercover investigation reveals slaughterhouse horrors

When Last Chance for Animals went undercover at Pel-Freez’s Arkansas slaughterhouse, the largest in the country, they found rampant abuse. Rabbits were routinely stunned improperly or not at all. Workers attached conscious rabbits to hanging hooks by forcefully breaking each rabbit’s leg to insert the hook. Instead of slicing the rabbit’s neck from the front, rabbits were decapitated with dull knives from behind, prolonging their suffering.

Inspection of rabbit slaughterhouses are voluntary and paid for by the owners themselves – there is no incentive to have United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspectors onsite. Even with inspections, many of the practices that occur at slaughterhouses are considered normal and routine and thus exempt from anti-cruelty laws.

And because inspection is voluntary, there are no accurate data on how many rabbits are killed. Numbers range from 1-3 million rabbits slaughtered in the United States.

Rush to save 28 lives

When Friends of Unwanted Rabbits were notified that a farm in northern California was phasing out its rabbit program, they rushed to find placement for the bunnies.

The farm refused to relinquish the babies to rescue. They were all killed and processed for “food.”

This left the parent rabbits – the male and female bunnies exploited for breeding. Twenty eight of them languished in individual wire cages, with no enrichment, no outdoor access, no life.

The average lifespan of a doe used for breeding is two years, while a male may be exploited for up to six. The babies are taken from their mom at 3-weeks-old and killed at 3-4 months old.

Animal Place was unable to take in all the rabbits, but we did offer safe haven for five. The others all found placement with other rescues.

Best buds

With a complex social structure, introducing new rabbits can be challenging…the fur can literally fly.

So when the lucky five arrived to our rescue and adoption center, caregivers nervously opened each rabbit’s carrier door and crossed their fingers.

Turns out, we had nothing to fear! Despite living in cages by themselves for years all five seemed like best friends reunited.

The only evidence of the terror they faced can be found on each bunny’s ear – a tattoo pounded into their sensitive skin for identification. They are not numbers, though, they are Twiggy, Dickens, Checkers, Mitzie, and Celine.

Until we see ALL animals as unique beings who have their own interests and desires, we will not see the end to their suffering. Rabbits do not belong on the menu any more than cows or pigs do, which is to say, they do not belong on the menu at all.


6 Responses so far.

  1. The sad eye opening truth about the horrific way in which rabbits are slaughtered. The farm gave me only two days to rescue the 28 rabbits or they too would have been sent to slaughter. It took a miracle to get them all to safety. Thank you Animal Place for being the miracle for five beautiful bunny ladies! I can’t wait to visit them.

  2. Colleen Coleman says:

    It is an outrage that rabbits, chickens and turkeys are not covered by any animal protection laws, not that these offer much protection, they offer minimum protection at best. But for rabbits, chickens and turkeys not being afforded any protection is not acceptable. The laws need to be changed and our treatment of rabbits, chickens and turkeys needs to be changed too.

    • Isabel says:

      USDA regs have nothing to do with animal welfare and everything to do with Big Ag Business destroying small farms and eliminating competition for their cheap, feedlot product. As an owner of an organic farm I can tell you it is a joke to hear USDA offers “protection” to animals. USDA facilities are horribly stressful, filthy disgusting and inhumane. Farmers can humanely put down an animal so that it does not suffer and the best way to do this is at the farm where the animal is raised…because of these federal regulations animals are “abducted” from the only home they ever knew to travel to the USDA facilities which truly are horrific compared to how the average farmer does things. It is horribly stressful to any animal to go to a strange place that smells like death full of strange people and smells. Laws that prevent local farmers from processing their own animals hurt animal welfare and hurt local food supply. Most regulations that claim to be for our “own good” are really just about controlling the market for special interests.

  3. Anne says:

    Save the Rabbits !!!

  4. Kacey Kelly says:

    I believe the best thing we can do (to eventually stop this) is to personally promote a Vegetarian diet every chance we get. I do this by giving Vegetarian cookbooks as gifts (Linda McCartney & daughter Mary both have written several awesome books!).