The Year of the Abandoned Rabbit? Animal Welfare Groups Fear the Worst

For anyone following the Chinese zodiac, January 22nd will usher in the Year of the Rabbit — and with it, new fears of rabbits being abandoned in large numbers. Why? Rabbits are generally considered good luck. In fact, the rabbit sign is considered a symbol of longevity, peace, and prosperity in Chinese culture.

This year is even predicted to be a year of hope — just not necessarily for rabbits — but animal welfare groups in Malaysia and Singapore are warning consumers not to buy the silky fur balls to mark the lunar new year because they know what’s to follow.

Photo: Pixabay/SimonaR

Night of the Lepus

It’s nothing as extreme as the bad bunny film Night of the Lepus, where mutant rabbits run amuck. It’s just that every time the Year of the Rabbit rolls around, there’s an influx of rabbit purchases and then abandonments. And with 2023 being the Year of the Rabbit, starting January 22, 2023 (Chinese New Year), and ending February 9, 2024 (Chinese New Year’s Eve), the purchases have already begun.

Photo: Pixabay/strengthinnumbers

Rabbits in High Demand

Mohideen Abdul Kader, president of the Consumers’ Association of Penang in Malaysia, noted it was inevitable considering “the belief that it will bring good luck” to receive one. “However, as with other past zodiacal hype, many rabbits will be left to their fate once the novelty dies off,” he stated.

The Singapore Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals shared with local media that it received about 60 reports of abandonment annually, even though failure to care for pets is a criminal offense in the country carrying a fine of up to $100,000 and a possible three-year prison sentence.

Photo: Pixabay/joannafotograf

House Rabbit Society Singapore

According to Betty Tan, President of House Rabbit Society Singapore, the group has taken in 21 rabbits since the beginning of December and typically receives more “surrender requests” around festive seasons.

“This upcoming year of the rabbit will be a challenging year for the rabbit rescue groups, as we anticipate there will be more surrender cases as a result of impulse [buying] of rabbits,” she said. The society is urging consumers to understand the commitments before purchasing one.

Photo: Pixabay/LubosHouska

Rabbit Care

RSPCA Australia says there is a common misconception about rabbit care among the public that they are “easy” first pets to have. The thing is, they have specific needs and a lifespan of up to 12 years, so many people may be letting themselves in for more than they bargained for.

“Despite their popularity, rabbits are among the most neglected animals that humans have domesticated, insensitive to the suffering such domestication often entails,” Kader lamented. Instead, he suggests people consider a toy rabbit as an alternative this lunar new year rather than a live animal.

toy rabbits
Photo: Pixabay/josealbafotos

Years of the Rabbit

Coming ’round every 12 years, the last Year of the Rabbit fell in 2011. Before that, the years 1999, 1987, 1975, 1963, 1951, 1939, 1927, and so on, were all Years of the Rabbit.

People, Pets & Planet

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