Tuesday, 9 May 2017

United Airlines denies freezing giant rabbit Simon to death


 
The owners of a giant rabbit that died after a United Airlines flight have claimed the animal may have been accidentally locked in an airport freezer.
 
 
A lawyer for the Iowa-based group that bought the 3ft-long rabbit alleges that at least one airline employee has said the animal may have been exposed to sub-zero temperatures for up to 16 hours after arriving in Chicago from London.


Des Moines attorney Guy Cook called for an independent investigation and said that by cremating Simon the rabbit without the ownership group's permission, United had effectively destroyed evidence in the case.


Mr Cook told a news conference: "United Airlines can issue any statement they like but their company's credibility is under question when they immediately cremate the giant rabbit Simon without anyone's consent.


"They destroyed the proof."


United Airlines spokesman Charles Hobart denied Simon died in a freezer.


He said in a written statement that the company was reviewing a letter outlining the claims, that he was saddened by Simon's death and that the airline took its responsibilities for transporting pets seriously.


Mr Hobart said the rabbit arrived in Chicago, apparently in good condition, and was seen moving around its kennel some 35 minutes later.


"Shortly thereafter, a kennel representative noticed Simon was motionless and that he had passed away," he said.
 
 
He said the rabbit's breeder, Annette Edwards, from Worcestershire, was a customer of the airline and had turned down the offer of a post-mortem.


He said the airline had already reached a settlement with Ms Edwards.


Speaking in front of a large video monitor displaying a photo of the dead rabbit on its side in a large crate, Mr Cook said the group that bought Simon had intended to display him at this summer's Iowa State Fair.


After winning a prize for the largest rabbit, the men intended to take Simon to other events and raise money for the fair, Mr Cook said.


The owners are seeking the costs of buying and transporting the rabbit - estimated at £1,800 ($2,300) - and future earnings.


Mr Cook said Simon could have grown to weigh 40lbs and outgrown his father, previously crowned the world's biggest rabbit.


News of the rabbit's death came as the airline was struggling to repair its image following the removal of passenger David Dao from a United plane at Chicago's O'Hare airport.




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