A Mississippi livestock fair is in hot water after animal rights groups discovered that residents of Tippah County annually participate in the “Rabbit Scramble,” a cruel game that requires children to chase terrified rabbits and snatch them up by their ears.
The Tippah County Fair and Livestock Show takes place every year in Ripley, Mississippi, and typically relies on live animals for entertainment. Past events have seen events such as the “Pet Show,” the “Goat Show,” and “The Ranch Rodeo.” But this appears to be the first year that the fair has been called out for the inherent cruelty of their popular Rabbit Scramble.
According to the Huffington Post, animal advocacy groups across the nation are demanding an end to the Rabbit Scramble, arguing that the activity causes the animals serious pain and potential permanent damage. Once the group In Defense of Animals got wind of the Tippah County Fair, they released a statement denouncing this abuse disguised as family fun.
“Not only is this event terrifying and painful for the rabbits, but it can cause lasting damage including broken ear cartilage, fractured spines, and can even cause the skin to separate from the rabbits’ backs.”
Photos from previous Rabbit Scramble events shows children and adults holding up rabbits by their ears, letting them dangle helplessly off the ground.
As if being yanked by the ears wasn’t bad enough, the rabbits first have to endure a dangerous free-for-all as children as young as 4-years-old are set loose on them. In situations like this, prey animals like rabbits immediately assume they’re being chased and captured by a predator.
“Being prey animals – being chased is one of the worst things you could do to them,” said Linda Sue Malie, founder of the rescue group Rabbits In Need Inc.
You can see some disturbing examples of children mishandling the animals in these videos of a 2014 “Rabbit Scramble.”
But it gets worse. After the Rabbit Scramble takes place, children are allowed to keep the rabbits they capture and bring them home. Critics of the Tippah County Fair claim this cruel game not only devalues the lives of the rabbits, but teaches children that animals are nothing more than prizes that can be mistreated for entertainment. The families who catch rabbits could also be uneducated about how to care for a rabbit.
“Swathes of impressionable young children are being encouraged to treat animals as unfeeling, disposable objects who can be abused for fun. The only qualification for bringing home an animal is the child’s ability to chase and grab him or her.”
And rabbits aren’t the only animals being chased down and snatched up. The Tippah County Fair also occasionally uses helpless chickens and other small creatures.
Multiple websites have launched for the sole purpose of shutting down the Rabbit Scramble, including a page on Rabbit.org, which claims the event qualifies as animal cruelty under Mississippi law. A Change.org petition was also started to get all future Rabbit Scramble events cancelled. So far, the petition has more than 44,000 signatures.
The 2016 “Rabbit Scramble” is slated to happen on August 11, but many of the Tippah County Fair Facebook pages have been taken down, including many photos of rabbits being held by the ears. A massive backlash from users across the world poured in to protest the Rabbit Scramble, which could potentially pressure the event organizers to finally pull the plug on the cruel activity.
“How would you like it if a bunch of people literally forced you up by your ears and shook you around carelessly?” wrote one user. “What kind of savage people are you?”
What do you think? Is the Rabbit Scramble animal cruelty, or harmless family fun?
[Photo by Abid Katib/Getty Images]