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Danish Broadcaster Says Killing Of Rabbit On Air Highlighted Hypocrisy

This rabbit wasn't the one killed in Denmark.
Dean Fosdick
This rabbit wasn't the one killed in Denmark.

A Danish radio station says a host who killed a 9-week-old rabbit during a live debate on animal welfare and later cooked and ate it wanted to "stir a debate about the hypocrisy when it comes to perceptions of cruelty towards animals." But not everyone is buying that argument amid demands for Asger Juhl, the host, to be fired for "shameless self-promotion."

Juhl killed the rabbit May 25, by hitting it with a bicycle pump during a live broadcast. The network posted a video of him petting the animal and later cooking meat. A professional animal caretaker at a Danish zoo instructed Juhl on the best way to kill the animal, Radio24syv said.

The reaction was swift and angry. Much of it came on Radio24syv's Facebook page; and some of it was on a change.org petition calling for Juhl to be fired.

"We knew that we would be accused of provocation," the broadcaster said. "And yes, we indeed wanted to provoke the public and to stir a debate about the hypocrisy when it comes to perceptions of cruelty towards animals."

Here's more from the statement:

"Every day in the nation of Denmark, thousands and thousands of animals are put down to fill the meat counters in our super markets. Danish agriculture is one of the most industrialized in the world. But we do not seem to focus on animal welfare."

The statement highlighted conditions under which poultry, pigs and other animals are kept in Denmark, one of the world's top meat-consuming countries, and added:

"Consumers generally do not kill animals themselves, but we buy and eat animals, that have lead sad lives. We just don't see it, and don't consider the animals 'cute' as the rabbit.

"These animals have often endured horrific suffering on their way to our dinner tables. These animals are killed according to the same controlled conditions as our studio rabbit, and without it invoking any strong reactions or calls for boycott. We at least believe that the studio rabbit have had a comfortable existence."

"We wanted to expose the vast hypocrisy surrounding our relationship with animals. So far we have succeeded.

"We wanted and want to have a debate about animal welfare - for all animals."

But not everyone was buying it. Facebook user Debbie Gilbert wrote: "The fact that you, your boss(es) and owners of your station don't seem to think there is anything wrong with your actions, not only makes me question [everyone's] state of mind, and mental health, but it also makes me wonder how and why those involved are still employed and not facing any sort of animal cruelty charges."

Robert Darin wrote that he did care about the treatment of animals, but said Juhl's actions "was just cheap grandstanding to get ratings."

This isn't the first time the killing of an animal on air has prompted outrage. British TV chef Jamie Oliver was criticized for killing chickens on TV for a meal he was about to cook.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Krishnadev Calamur is NPR's deputy Washington editor. In this role, he helps oversee planning of the Washington desk's news coverage. He also edits NPR's Supreme Court coverage. Previously, Calamur was an editor and staff writer at The Atlantic. This is his second stint at NPR, having previously worked on NPR's website from 2008-15. Calamur received an M.A. in journalism from the University of Missouri.
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