April 26 (UPI) — A giant rabbit, on track to become the largest of its kind, was found dead in the cargo hold of a United Airlines flight after it landed in Chicago, leaving the airline with another public relations challenge.
Ten-month-old Simon, a 3-foot long continental giant rabbit, was set to break a size record currently held by his father. Simon, on his way to a new owner, was found dead in the cargo hold of a United Airlines’ Boeing 767 when it arrived in Chicago from London.
It was not clear when or how his death occurred, but current owner and rabbit breeder Annette Edwards said the rabbit was found to be in good health by a veterinarian prior to his flight.
“I’ve sent rabbits all around the world and nothing like this has happened before. The client who bought Simon is very famous. He’s upset.”
U.S. airlines reported the deaths of 35 animals aboard plane flights in 2015, the most recent available data, U.S. Department of Transportation statistics show. Fourteen of those were on United flights; the airline carried 97,156 animals that year. At 2.37 deaths per 10,000 transported animals, United has the highest casualty figures of any U.S. airline.
Simon’s death comes after a United passenger lost two teeth and sustained a concussion after he was forcibly removed, earlier in April, from an overbooked flight. In March, two female passengers were barred from, flying on a United flight from Denver to Minneapolis for wearing leggings, a violation of United’s dress code for passengers.