Monday, January 17, 2011

Don't Buy Rabbits in the Year of the Rabbit

Lunar New Year 2011 3 Feb - 17 Feb 2011

I see 'red' everywhere.

In 2 weeks' time, Chinese around the world will be celebrating Lunar New Year (农历新年). According to the Chinese Zodiac, this new year will be the Year of the Rabbit (卯).

Chinese people are strong believers of the element of luck and many would go an extra mile for it. Most of the beliefs involve some form of symbolism. For example, 'Red' is considered a lucky color.

Be a responsible pet owner.

In Singapore, some people buy rabbits on impulse believing that having them in the house during the Year of the Rabbit would bring good luck. Some even buy these furry animals as gifts.

Many of these pet owners are not ready for a long term commitment. As soon as they realize that rabbits are not low-maintenance pets, they abandon them. In the previous Year of the Rabbit (1999), 625 rabbits were abandoned here and that was 340 more than the year before.

The pet shops have good reasons to be happy as many expect a rabbit craze  (article). Some are taking this opportunity to use rabbits as a marketing gimmick, luring consumer to buy the 'lucky charms' on impulse.

"Don't dump me!" (Photo Credit: Mile)

On the other hand, the animal activists have much to worry about. The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Singapore (SPCA) and the House of Rabbit Society (HRSS) jointly released a Press Statement on 7 Dec 2010, urging the public "Please Don't Buy A Bunny!".

On 23 Dec 2010, the Straits Times carried another story reminding readers: "Don't usher in Year of the (dumped) Rabbits". In the article, a 'feng shui' (geomancy) master 'debunked the myth that people need rabbits to bring luck or prosperity in the Year of the Rabbit.'

On 2 Jan 2011, the HRSS asked viewers to "Help Save Rabbits this Chinese New Year" via a YouTube video. A local citizen journalism website, 'Stomp' also sent out a similar message: "Save a bunny! Please don't buy one just because it is the year of rabbit". The 'Mood Meter' on site indicated that about 95% felt either 'Enraged' or 'So sad' with the idea of buying pet rabbits as 'good luck charms'.

Pets are 'Friends For Life"

Owning a rabbit or for that matter, any pet, is a long term commitment. Not many people who buy rabbits on impulse realize that they are walking into a 10-year commitment. The cute and furry look of the animal somehow makes them forget that they are not buying a soft toy but a living animal.

The pet shop owners are not the only happy people. Some restaurants are offering rabbit meat dishes during this festival in the name of good luck. The Szechuan Court at Fairmont Singapore is one such example. 

Spicy Szechuan Heavenly Soup Pot
with 18 Treasures & Rabbit Meat

The restaurant is promoting an 'auspicious' new year dish known as "Spicy Szechuan Heavenly Soup Pot with 18 Treasures & Rabbit Meat". This 'auspicious' (or 'audacious'?) dish was also reported in Straits Times on 11 Jan 2011, 'Year of the rabbit stew: Diners trying rabbit meat'. Online readers at the 'Stomp' website reacted to that dish and found it distasteful. The 'Mood Meter' showed that many were either 'Enraged' or 'So sad'.

The Year of the Rabbit does not give us any excuse to behave like an impulsive and irresponsible pet owner. Neither does it suggest that we should chomp rabbit meat to bring in good luck.

Pet rabbits are not soft toys.
(Photo Credit: TOMAHAWK)

If for some reasons you must keep rabbits as pets in the Year of the Rabbit, I suggest you get a virtual pet from the Pet Society. However, if you think you are ready for the long term commitment, do some homework before you bring your little companion home. Check out basic information about house rabbits provided by the HRSS or go to the 'Pet Channel' to find out what other rabbit owners do. Most importantly, do not buy the bunnies. Adopt them. Many bunnies are waiting to be brought home from the HRSS Adoption Gallery.

Pets are friends for life, not soft toys. If you really want to attract good luck, save them, don't ditch them! Please help to spread this message.

Wishing you a Hoppy New Year!

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