Bunny abuse at temple fairs worries many

Updated: 2011-02-16 13:51

By  Zhang Lei (

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The temple fairs in Beijing attracted thousands of visitors during the Spring Festival, but they also stirred fierce criticism over their abuse of animals.

According to the Beijing News, the young rabbits locked in small cages at Lianhuachi Temple Fair on Feb 4 were the prizes for quoits games. Not only in this particular temple fair, similar games were also found in Ditan Temple Fair and other temple fair across the city.

Quoits has been a popular attraction at temple fairs for many years. In previous years, toy animals were usually the prizes, but this year some sellers replaced the toy animals with real rabbits.

At Daguanyuan Temple Fair, a mother told the paper that her daughter thought it was very cruel to let bunnies suffer. Although the game brought crowds and good business, she strongly suggested that next year the game should be dropped.

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“They are real flesh and blood bunnies, not toys for kids to play with. These little cuties are so sad,” she said.

Some netizens were also critical of the fairs for using live rabbits.

"The Year of the Rabbit is supposed to celebrate and elevate the spirit of the rabbit as being kind, warm and harmless. Rabbit abuse in rabbit year — it’s a joke," said one poster on a Sina message board.

Besides rabbits, hamsters and squirrels were also seen locked in cages. They often had to endure below zero temperatures for the entire day.

"If it is not cruelty, then what it is?" asked one visitor to a fair.

Late afternoon on the last day of Baiyunguan Temple Fair, as the crowds thinned, one vendor told Beijing News that though they had used fake animals and toy cars in the previous years, nowadays kids seemed to have everything, but the live animals had really caught their attention.

However, he also admitted that it was not without problems.

Ren Huaning, project director for China at the International Fund for Animal Welfare, said that these activities should not be encouraged as the animals are living creatures, not wool toys.

He said it was irresponsible to use rabbits as game prizes and suggested people think twice before giving them as new year presents.

"Many people don't have even basic knowledge of how to raise a rabbit. Some will just throw it away," he said.


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