Danish radio hosts kill baby rabbit on air

UPDATED: Radio24syv wanted to start a debate about the treatment of animals in Denmark's agriculture sector so its hosts killed a baby rabbit with a bicycle pump and ate it.

Danish radio hosts kill baby rabbit on air
Not Allan. Photo: Ian McKellar/Flickr
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. 

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R.I.P lille Allan

Posted 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.”

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Will Denmark see the return of mink farms in 2022?

After all mink breeders were last year forced by the government to close down their farms, discussions are beginning on whether the industry could return in 2022.

Will Denmark see the return of mink farms in 2022?
A mink at a North Jutland fur farm in August 2020. Photo: Henning Bagger/BAG/Ritzau Scanpix

All fur farm minks in Denmark were culled late last year and the practice banned until 2022 after an outbreak of Covid-19 in the animals at several farms led to concerns over mutations of the virus.

The mink industry was subsequently given a gigantic compensation package worth up to 18.8 billion kroner.

Parliament’s environment and food committee will meet on Tuesday to discuss whether to extend the current ban or allow the industry to return. Political negotiations were scheduled to take place following an orientation published the same day by the State Serum Institute (SSI), Denmark’s national infectious disease agency.

In a statement released on Tuesday morning, SSI maintained an earlier risk assessment that mink breeding constitutes an health risk of “unknown proportions” for humans in Denmark.

READ ALSO: Danish PM Frederiksen to be questioned over Covid-19 mink culls

The assessment, made by the agency in June, remains the position held by SSI, the infectious disease agency said.

“It is the general assessment of the State Serum Institute that breeding of mink in Denmark after 2021 could constitute a health risk for humans of unknown proportions,” the June assessment stated.

Three key risk factors were identified by SSI in June:

  • Breakthrough Covid-19 infections in vaccinated mink breeders and skinners
  • The potential of mink farms to act as an “infection reservoir” where the virus can continue to survive
  • Emergence of new Covid-19 mutations in the animals and their spread to humans

The SSI assessment was solely concern with potential risk to humans, and did not have the task of considering safety measures for reopening farms.

Prior to the release of SSI’s statement on Tuesday, the interest organisation for the mink fur breeding industry, Danske Mink, criticised the appraisal made by the agency in June.

The formulation of the assessment was imprecise and “quite erroneous”, Danske Mink chairperson Louise Simonsen said.

The earlier orientation did not give an accurate representation “both with the number of animals and with the vaccination situation,” Simonsen argued.

Around 1,000 mink farms operated in Denmark at the time the industry was shut down.

Simonsen, in comments prior to Tuesday’s SSI statement, said she was uncertain how many were likely to restart their shuttered breeding grounds.

“We’ve had several messages from breeders who want to start up. But that number won’t stabilise until we know what we’re looking forward to,” she said.

The Conservative Party said through its spokesperson Per Larsen that SSI should have conducted a “risk assessment using groups of, for example, 50,000 or 100,000 minks” to see how “vaccinated mink, vaccinated staff and weekly testing could work”.

“Saying there’s a risk of unknown proportions is of no use whatsoever. It could mean nothing or many things,”” Larsen said.