It turns out that it's 'wabbit season' at Whole Foods. The grocery chain has begun selling rabbit meat in select stores nationwide, and animal activists are up in arms.
On Sunday, rabbit lovers organized a national day of action to draw attention to Whole Foods Markets' production and sale of rabbit meat, accusing the store of being "bunny butchers," according to The Daily Beast. Change.org even created a petition calling on the company to not sell rabbit meat, and has already gained over 13,000 signatures.
In response to the bunny backlash, Whole Foods spokeswoman Katie Malloy issued a statement to CBS6 News:
"Whole Foods Market is sensitive to the companion animal issue and we understand this product won't appeal to everyone. However, for those customers who have been asking us to carry rabbit, it's our job to make sure we offer the highest-quality product from responsible sources."
The silver lining for all the non-rabbit eaters out there is that the rabbits are not ill-treated, and the meat will be consistent with Whole Foods standards. This means the rabbits won't be caged, will be well fed, treated if sick, and allowed time to rest before being re-bred.
"The welfare-focused standards we developed at Whole Foods Market, are designed around their instinctual behaviors and include more than 75 species-specific requirements that ensure the overall health and well-being of the animal," the company said in a news release.
However, activists from the House Rabbit Society allege that those standards may not be as stringent as they appear, The Dodo reported. Rabbits are not covered under the USDA's Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, so, like poultry, they don't have to be stunned before they are slaughtered, meaning death may be painful.
Opponents suggest that Whole Foods should introduce new meat alternatives, rather than sell a different type of meat; especially since rabbit meat is not a wildly popular meat of choice, compared to chicken, beef or pork.
Interestingly, while activists are outraged by humans eating rabbits, that doesn't stop from rabbits eating rabbits. These cute creatures are known for killing their young, whether it's because they feel threatened by predators nearby, there isn't enough food to adequately nourish all the babies, or because the young mother doesn't understand parenthood.
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