When it comes to breeding the world’s largest giant rabbits, perhaps the last thing you want to do is take them flying on airplanes with you.
Just weeks after being under fire for the way a passenger was forcefully escorted off of one of its airplanes, United Airlines is making headlines once again because a giant rabbit that was being stored in the cargo hold of the aircraft reportedly arrived at its destination dead.
There is currently no explanation as to why the giant rabbit didn’t survive the flight from London to Chicago, but it was reportedly one important giant rabbit.
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Simon, the rabbit, was almost 3 feet long and was said to be an offspring of the world’s largest giant rabbit, Darius, whose nearly 4-foot figure was recognized by Guinness World Records. Simon was just 10 months old, and had the potential to grow up to be bigger than his father.
The passenger who owned the rabbit is, of course, heartbroken, and can’t understand why the giant rabbit perished. Investigations are ongoing, but some of the possible explanations are extreme temperature conditions or stressful events.
According to the passenger, the giant rabbit went through a health checkup before boarding the flight and was found to be as healthy as can be, so no immediate health concerns were known. This means that some factor related to the flight must have led to its death.
National Geographic interviewed experts, who have already started putting their two cents in about why the animal might not have survived the flight.
Since the cargo hold is not always heated like the rest of the aircraft is, it can become extremely cold; sometimes freezing. It’s possible that the animal simply didn’t survive the dramatic temperature change, as it was undoubtedly subjected to it for several hours.
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Another possible cause of death is that because rabbits are animals of prey, they tend to be on the lookout for signs of danger all the time. Loud noises from luggage shifting during turbulence, dogs barking, or anything else that could spark fear in the animal could have stressed the rabbit out to the point of a heart attack.
Making matters worse, breeding unique animals, such as rabbits that are larger than they should be, reportedly makes the creatures more susceptable to issues, as they're considered to be "more fragile" so to speak. Their genetics leave them with less room for error, so they're not as resillient as their normal counterpart. That's why you don't see them every day.
We won’t know for sure what the true cause of death was until a necropsy is performed (if a necropsy is performed), but the loss of the giant rabbit is nothing short of a nightmare for the world and its owner. It also brings up the point that taking animals onto long commercial flights may not be the greatest idea.
United Airlines is reportedly reviewing the death of the animal and has reached out to the passenger to offer assistance.
Source: National Geographic, CNN