The Actual Lives of Cultural Symbols

Being a significant symbol of the holiday, last year in Easter, we have focused on Eggs and the various Eggs Games. This year we’ll focus on another significant symbol of Easter – Rabbits.

The Easter Bunny origin is in pre-Christian fertility lore. Rabbits symbolize fertility and new life during the spring season in human culture.

But these are the actual lives of rabbits in human culture:

Rabbits in the flesh industry are doomed to spend their entire lives in huge corrugated iron sheds, known in the industry as “rabbitries” – where barren, wire battery cages are raised about a meter above the ground, often stacked two or three layers high.
Sometimes the sheds are open-sided, so the caged rabbits are exposed to extreme changes of temperature, light and noise. And in the rest, the rabbits never see day light.
This is the fate of more than one billion sentient individuals per year.
The formal numbers of the industry are one billion rabbits per year, but since many humans confine rabbits in their backyards, the informal numbers are probably much higher.

The bunnies are packed 6-8 in a cage measuring 2 ft x 3 ft x 18 ft high.
In the wild, female rabbits live in a three acres territory and males occupy a territory of eight acres. The small sized cages restrict the young rabbits’ movement and thus result in poor development of the thigh bone. Caged rabbits lose the ability to hop normally.
Abnormalities in the shape of the back and the ensuing pressure on the vertebral column may cause further injuries.
The Rabbits exploiters confine them in such small cages to severely restrict their movement. The industry’s math is very simple- less space = less movement = less energy spent = more weight = more  money.

Torments and Diseases

Rabbits in the meat industry suffer from space deprivation, poor ventilation, manipulated lighting, and etc. Consequently they exhibit a range of neurotic behaviors such as fur-plucking, ear-biting and self-mutilation. They become obese, get inflamed feet, have poor bone density, develop gastrointestinal and urinary dysfunction.

Caged rabbits can suffer from ulcerative pododermatitis (also called “sore hocks”) consisting of scab-covered ulcers on the hind legs. This is caused by the pressure of heavy body weight on a wire floor, or by excessive stamping of the feet by nervous rabbits.

Prolonged exposure to fumes (particularly ammonia) from urine and faeces, irritate the rabbits’ eyes and respiratory tracts and predisposes them to disease.

In nature, rabbits’ way of dealing with dangers is by running and hiding in holes. The fact that they can’t do it in the cages causes panic with every change in the surrounding. When they are taken out of the cage or someone else is getting in or even to the slightest noise, rabbits often respond with digestive problems, in some cases hurting themselves or their babies, sometimes killing them.

An indication of how hard the conditions in the rabbits farms are – one in 4 rabbits will die due to the intensive conditions before the age of 12 weeks (rabbit’s slaughter age) even though they can reach up to 15 years of age.

The Lives of the Breeding Does

The industry’s way of “producing” more “meat bunnies” is by caging some does and bucks (female and male rabbits) in a solitary cage, and use them as a breeding stock.

In the wild, rabbits form social colonies that usually consist of one to three males and one to five females. Domestic rabbits retain the full range of behaviors of their wild ancestors, so housing rabbits singly in barren cages causes physiological and behavioral problems.

The nails of adult rabbits are trimmed to prevent them from holding on to the wire mesh of the cage when they are taken out to mate.

Young does are mated for the first time at the age of 16 weeks. Then they start their endless cycle of impregnation, gestation, birth, and nursing.
A typical litter consists of 8-10 bunnies which are taken away from their mother at 4 weeks of age. The does are fertile 24 hours after giving birth and are re-mated before each litter is weaned.

Does have an average ‘use-life’ of about 18 months. During this period, they will “produce” 8-15 litters. The gestation lasts for 32 days. An average litter reproduces 6-8 successfully fattened rabbits (out of 8-10 born bunnies). Production targets are of at least 45-50 rabbits per doe per year. Bucks are usually kept until they are 3 to 4 years old.


At the age of 12 weeks, weighting about 2kg, the rabbits are murdered.

Many Rabbits are forced to endure a journey of hundreds of miles since there are very few licensed rabbit slaughterhouses. The rabbits are crammed into crates that are stacked on each other in open vehicles and then transported for long distances.

The other option is not much better. In many cases the rabbits are slaughtered by the much less skilled farmers.

Rabbits that are slaughtered in commercial facilities undergo electrical stunning, which is supposed to render them unconscious, and then they are decapitated.
In smaller processing facilities or on-site slaughter, manual stunning methods are used. Two are recommended by the industry: twisting the rabbits’ necks to the point of cervical dislocation, or hitting the rabbits on the head with a piece of iron pipe.

After the stunning, the rabbits are hung by one of the hind legs above the hock joint. Then their throats are slit.

According to the USDA’s meat inspectors, some rabbits are fully conscious as they have hook jabbed through their leg muscles and possibly through the bone.

The rabbit meat industry is another example of the absurd duality of the human race.
Rabbits are considered to be one of the most adorable animals in the world.
You can find rabbit dolls in every toy store, one of the most popular characters among children is bugs bunny and rabbits are, unfortunately, very popular in the ‘petting zoo’ at kindergartens and elementary schools.

At the same stores humans are buying rabbit puppet dolls for their children, rabbit designed slippers for themselves or, especially now in Easter, rabbit shaped chocolate, they are also buying rabbit corpses.

Rabbits are means to humans’ ends in every possible way.
“Pets”, “Lab Animals”, clothes materials, stuffed dolls, or skinless rabbit hind legs.
Cute or not, rabbits have one role in this world, to pleasure humans.

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