In order to demonstrate the “widespread hypocrisy in our relationship to animals”, Danish radio station Radio24syv killed a baby rabbit on air.
The baby rabbit, Allan, was killed by repeated blows to the head with a bicycle pump and Asger Juhl, one of the radio station’s hosts, later skinned it with his children and planned to eat it as rabbit stew with his family and fellow host Kristoffer Eriksen.
"I hit it hard over the neck twice so that the cervical vertebrae fractured," Juhl told broadcaster TV 2.
"I was instructed by a zookeeper from Aalborg Zoo who hits several baby rabbits every week [to feed] the snakes," he added.
After a strong backlash and calls for a boycott, the radio station defended its rabbit-killing stunt by saying that it achieved its exact purpose, namely exposing the hypocrisy of those who claim to be animal lovers but eat meat.
“We killed an animal to eat it. Thus what the hosts did [Sunday] morning resembled what most of us do every day when we stand in front of the supermarket’s refrigerated counter. We don’t kill animals ourselves – but we buy and eat animals that have had a miserable life. And animals that were killed under the exact same controlled settings as the rabbit in the studio. Without it provoking strong reactions and boycotts,” Radio24syv wrote in a long Facebook post.
The station said by killing and eating Allan, they wanted to shine a light on the conditions faced by animals in Denmark’s agriculture sector.
“Danish consumers allow chicken farms to keep 13 chickens per square meter. And they accept lengthy and painful transport of animals to the slaughterhouse. In Danish pig farms, 25.000 piglets die every day, because agriculture has bred pigs that give birth to more piglets than the sow can feed. This is wasted life,” a subsequent English-language version of their Facebook post read.
The station killed the rabbit over the objections of reality star Linse Kessler, who was brought on the programme as an outspoken advocate for animal rights. Kessler tried to grab the animal and chased radio host Asger Juhl around the studio several times before being asked to leave.
"They wanted to see if they could kill him during the last show or if they had gotten too attached to him," she said in a video clip on her Facebook page.
Kessler said she thought she was capable of wresting the animal from Juhl but feared it would die a more painful death if she grabbed it.
In her video message, she said that she understood the point Radio24syv was trying to make but stressed that Allan should not have been killed on air.
“I could see that the message is actually for the best of animals but I think it is wrong,” she said.
R.I.P lille AllanPosted by Linse Kessler on Monday, May 25, 2015
News of the radio stunt quickly made its way to the international media, where several outlets drew parallels with the Copenhagen Zoo’s controversial killing of the giraffe Marius last year which led to intense media coverage the world over.
That incident, just like the radio station's stunt, drew a mixed response in Denmark where agriculture is a key export industry.
"To provoke and to promote itself," Twitter user Steffen Andersen in Aarhus wrote, while journalist Brian Esbensen tweeted: "What if people were just as outraged over drowned refugees."