United Airlines agreed to pay a five-figure compensation to rabbit breeder Annette Edwards after her giant rabbit Simon died on a flight from London to Chicago.
Simon, a three-foot-long giant black bunny, was expected to outgrow his father to eventually become the biggest rabbit in the world when he reportedly froze to death during a United Airlines flight.
An airport worker said Simon was mistakenly placed in a freezing holding cell for up to 16 hours, the Daily Mail reported. The rabbit was on his way to a new owner in Iowa, who wanted to show him off at the Iowa State Fair.
Simon’s breeder, former Playboy bunny Annette Edwards, was even more upset after learning that United had cremated the rabbit’s body before alerting her to their screw-up.
“The whole thing stinks of a cover-up,” Edwards told the Sun. “I had been asking United over and over again for his body so that I can have him examined here in Britain but they never got back to me. I suspected he was dropped, but to find out he was frozen to death has really knocked me. I had asked for the CCTV but they wouldn’t give me it, and now I know why.”
A United spokesman denied Simon froze to death. “That assertion is completely false,” a rep said. “Simon was cared for at the PetSafe kennel facility, which is kept at room temperature (on average 70 F).”
The rep continued: “He arrived at Chicago O’Hare Airport in apparent good condition at 10:25 am local time. He was seen by a representative of the kennel facility moving about within his crate about 11:00 am. Shortly thereafter, a kennel representative noticed Simon was motionless and determined that he passed away. Travel can be stressful for animals.”
While it’s undoubtedly true that travel is stressful, United Airlines has a dismal record for animal transport. United had the second-highest rate of animal deaths of any U.S. airline in 2016, according to the Department of Transportation.
Simon’s death is another black eye for the beleaguered airline, which last week paid an undisclosed settlement to Dr. David Dao for dragging him off a flight in an incident that sent shock waves around the world.
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