Abu Dhabi hotel cancels plan to give away live rabbits as raffle prizes


An Abu Dhabi hotel has cancelled a raffle to give away live rabbits away as a prize after objections from a animal rescue group.

Dino’s Bistro Italiano in Pearl Rotana Capital Centre had planned to display a rabbit house with three bunnies during its Long Weekend Brunch.

Children were to be allowed to touch and handle the rabbits, which would be raffled off to guests attending the event.

But an animal rescue group got in touch to complain, saying it objected to a rabbit being “a toy to be given away”.

We greatly support everyone’s feedback and apologise as this was not intended at all to be disrespectful

Amal Harb, corporate vice president, Rotana Hotels

“I rang the hotel and asked to speak to the F&B manager,” said Tracey Hughes, who runs Rescue of Abu Dhabi (RAD).

“They very kindly called me back and explained their reasoning behind it.

“She said they thought it was a nice idea. We had three rabbits we were potentially going to give to good families.

“I said how do you know they are good families and they are not going to dump them in a week or two weeks? Or they’re not going to be allergic?”

A Rotana spokeswoman said it was not the hotel’s intention to offend.

“We greatly support everyone’s feedback and apologise as this was not intended at all to be disrespectful in any way and was simply just to have kids experience the living bunnies while visiting Pearl Rotana for Easter Brunch,” Amal Harb, corporate vice president, told The National.

She said the hotel has discussed the possibility of working with the rescue group to raise awareness and encourage the community to learn more about responsible pet ownership.

Ms Hughes said there is often a surge in the dumping of rabbits in the weeks following Easter, when some families get tired of their new pet.

“They have to understand that small bunnies grow into big bunnies. They are very destructive,” she said.

“And they can live 10 years plus, if they are well looked after. They are the same commitment as a cat and a dog.”

But few people are aware of the hard work involved in looking after them, so dump them when they lose interest.

“I went to one of the pet shops yesterday down at Mina and there must have been 40 bunny rabbits, all babies. Literally the size of your hand.

“And you know that’s why they are there. They are there for Easter. Two, three or four weeks down the line they are going to be on the streets.

She said there are already many bunnies popping up around the Corniche and in Abu Dhabi city.

Kate Lindley, a manager at Paw Pals animal rescue centre in Dubai, said it has seen the same predictable surge in requests to adopt rabbits.

“We are seeing an increasing amount of rabbits for adoption as people do not think through their decisions,” she said.

“Any family needs to carefully consider the needs of any animal that they consider getting.

“Rabbits have very special needs and are quite delicate, they also can live up to 12 years so they are a long term commitment.”

Published: March 31, 2021 01:30 PM