United Airlines are facing another PR nightmare, after a famous bunny died on one of their flights.
Simon, the 90cm-long continental giant rabbit, reached notoriety as the son of Darius, the world’s largest bunny – and Simon was expected to take over from his dad’s hefty accolade.
But sadly, Simon was found dead in the cargo hold of a United Airlines plane when the flight arrived at Chicago’s O’Hare – yes, really – airport from London Heathrow.
Simon’s handler and breeder, Annette Edwards, claims the rabbit was healthy when he boarded the flight – which was transporting him to his new ‘celebrity’ owner in the States.
Edwards, a former Playboy model, told The Sun:
Simon had a vet’s check-up three hours before the flight and was fit as a fiddle. Something very strange has happened and I want to know what.
I’ve sent rabbits all around the world and nothing like this has happened before.
Statistics on the U.S Department of Transportation state there were 35 reported animal deaths on U.S airlines in 2015, and 14 of those occurred on United flights.
The BBC reports that, throughout 2015, United carried 97,156 animals, meaning there were 2.37 incidents for every 10,000 animals transported during the period.
That is the highest rate seen on any U.S airline, according to the data.
In a statement sent to the BBC, United said:
We were saddened to hear this news. The safety and well-being of all the animals that travel with us is of the utmost importance to United Airlines and our PetSafe team.
We have been in contact with our customer and have offered assistance. We are reviewing this matter.
This news comes weeks after United were vilified on social media for their physical man-handling of paying customer, 69-year-old Dr Dao, who was thrown off an over-crowded plane.
This day marks the demise of Simon and, undoubtedly, public faith in United. RIP.