Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Is this the way to welcome the rabbit year?


Welcome to the year of the Rabbit

Pet bunny craze spells bad news for rabbits
By Victoria Jen
31 January 2011 1205 hrs

TAIPEI : Rabbit souvenirs are flying off the shelves in Taiwan.

Some end up in personal collections, while others as presents to family and friends.

But there is one gift people in Taiwan are being asked not to buy for the Year of the Rabbit - and that's pet bunnies.

A shop owner said sales of its rabbits have gone up by as much as 30 per cent since October.

And that number is going to peak, ahead of the Lunar New Year.

"This year is the Year of the Rabbit, so many products with rabbit pattern are shown on television. And seeing how cute rabbits are makes many people want to buy one as a pet. That's why the demand is so high," said Lai Tai Yuan, owner of Ay Mhau Yuan Company.

Demand for pet rabbits is on the rise, as Taiwanese usher in the Year of the Rabbit. But animal activists are worried that many will end up on the street before the year is over.

Last year alone, more than 16,000 rabbits were abandoned in Taiwan.

The Taipei Rabbit Society is a shelter dedicated to rescuing the animals. It is worried that even more rabbits will be abandoned this year.

"A bunny is only about the size of your palm when you buy it. It grows three to four times bigger after six months as it becomes an adult rabbit. That's usually when they fall out of favour with their owners and get abandoned. If we take the Lunar New Year as the peak of rabbit sales, then we expect to see the height of abandonment this coming July and August," said Kuo Ba, spokesman for the Taipei Rabbit Society.

Rabbits are extremely vulnerable, and have practically no chance of surviving on its own.

"Pet rabbits are different from rabbits in the wild. When they end up on the street, their chances of survival are almost zero. They are easy target for attack from stray dogs, cats and even humans, or they can die from eating fertilizer and grass with pesticide," said Kuo.

- CNA /ls

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