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Rabbit's Death Brings More Woes For United Airlines
Updated April 27, 2017 9:29 AM
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Annette Edwards, with one of her oversized rabbits, said she has "sent rabbits all over the world" and nothing like this has ever happened.

(WASHINGTON) - United Airlines has landed in another PR disaster after a huge rabbit that had just arrived on a flight from London last week was found dead at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport - the same airport where a bloodied passenger had been dragged off a United flight 10 days earlier.

Regina Holmes of Talk Media News reports, Simon, a Continental Giant rabbit that was nearly three feet long, had been expected to outgrow his 4 foot, 4 inch father, Darius, to become the world's largest rabbit.

Bunny breeder Annette Edwards of Worcester, England sent Simon to a buyer in Chicago on a trans-Atlantic flight from Heathrow Airport to Chicago on April 19. The animal was transported in the cargo hold of a United flight.

The airline reportedly told Edwards that the rabbit survived the flight but died in a storage room at O'Hare. But Edwards said Simon died on the plane.

A veterinarian examined the 10-month-old black rabbit three hours before the flight and found the animal "fit as a fiddle," she said.

"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," Edwards told the United Kingdom tabloid The Sun.

A spokesperson for United Airlines 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."

Edwards - a former model, a mother of 10 and a great-grandmother - was previously in the tabloid headlines after spending thousands of dollars on plastic surgery in 2009 to transform herself into a real-life Jessica Rabbit, a cartoon character from the film "Who Killed Roger Rabbit?"

A total of 26 animals died out of more than 500,000 that were transported on flights in 2016, according to data from the U.S. Department of Transportation. There was an average of one death for every 10,000 animals that were transported by plane last year, the agency estimated.

United reported the most animal deaths in 2016: nine -- more than twice as many as American Airlines, which reported four and came in second place. United reported 14 injured animals, far surpassing the carrier with the second-most injuries: Delta, which reported 5.

Simon's mysterious death occurred 10 day after passenger Dr. David Dao was filmed being beaten and dragged off a United Express flight. The incident sparked widespread outrage and prompted thousands of people on social media to vow to boycott the airline. Dao's lawyer said the physician suffered a concussion and a broken nose and also lost two teeth after aviation police forcibly removed him from the plane to accommodate an airline employee.

United CEO Oscar Munoz has apologized and vowed that such incidents like this will never happen again. The airline said it has changed its policy regarding rebooking passengers.



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