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Animal Equality exposes extreme cruelty on rabbit farms in Mexico

Animal Equality's latest investigation, titled ‘Rabbits: Companions or meat?’, exposes extreme cruelty to rabbits raised for their flesh in Mexico. This investigation documents one rabbit farm in Querétaro and two in Mexico City.

Globally, the meat industry confines over one billion rabbits in cages. Countries like France, Spain, China, and Mexico each ‘produce’ thousands of tonnes of rabbit meat annually. These shy and curious creatures are confined to cramped cages; they are given barely more space than that of an A4 sheet, preventing them from expressing many of their most basic natural behaviours.

Exposés by Animal Equality have revealed extreme suffering on rabbit farms over the years . Rabbits often endure open wounds, painful eye infections, and some even have their ears bitten off by stressed companions.

In our latest investigation, we uncovered:

Overcrowding in battery cages: Rabbits, like other animals raised for their bodies, are kept in wire ‘battery’ cages that can injure their legs and prevent stretching. The situation is worsened by overcrowding, with up to ten rabbits crammed into some cages.

Abuse and rough handling: Rabbits on this farm suffer abuse by handlers, leading to fear and distrust. They are violently moved to the slaughter area, weighed, and transferred between cages.

Slaughter without prior stunning: Many rabbits are fully conscious as their throats are slit, causing them to bleed to death painfully. The disorganised slaughter process often leaves rabbits hanging for long periods, forcing them to witness each other’s suffering and anticipate their own fate.

Rabbits vocalising distress: Rabbits, usually silent animals, scream and cry out in desperation before their death.

I trust that the cries of anguish from the rabbits will shake society in Mexico and mobilise them to take action, demanding the protection they deserve.

Undercover Investigator

Insufficient laws and lack of enforcement

In Mexico, animal protection laws are limited. As a result, it is legally permissible to confine animals in cages, providing them with barely larger than an A4 piece of paper to stand on. It is also legal to mutilate them without pain relief.

The regulations in place to protect farmed animals mainly relate to transportation and slaughter to avoid unnecessary suffering, but these are often not enforced. Despite the fact that slaughter regulations are in place, our footage reveals that many were not effectively stunned beforehand. Rabbits were left hanging upside down, bleeding out, and remained fully conscious beyond the permitted times before finally being killed.

This investigation is just one example of a clear disregard for Mexican law. Across the country, animals suffer due to a lack of industry oversight. Between 2016-2018, Animal Equality documented serious violations of the Official Mexican Standard regulating animal transport. Injured and wounded animals, despite being unfit for transport, were found being transported in miserable conditions, facing hunger, thirst, abuse, and neglect.

Beyond Mexico and rabbits

Insufficient laws and lack of enforcement of existing laws is not only a problem in Mexico, it is a global problem, including right here in the UK. Animal Equality has documented similar suffering in rabbit farms in Spain and Italy. In one harrowing instance, a vet was filmed smashing a rabbit against the ground while acknowledging to the camera that this constitutes animal abuse. Two of the farms that our team investigated were directly linked to an English distributor and restaurants, including the Terrace at the National Theatre in London. Following our investigation, the restaurant removed rabbit dishes from their menu and vowed never to reinstate them. However, who knows how many other restaurants are still serving rabbit meat sourced from farms where similar horrors occur? 

Worse still, this extreme suffering is not limited to rabbits. While in the UK, rabbits are mostly cherished as companion animals, other farmed animals are often subject to dismal conditions on farms and in slaughterhouses, despite being equally capable of feeling pain. Companies found to be deliberately abusing or neglecting animals like sheep, cows, pigs, chickens, and fish too often get away with their crimes and are not properly brought to justice.

Our fight for all animals

At Animal Equality, we are fighting tirelessly for the freedom of all farmed animals worldwide. In Mexico, we have filed complaints against this specific rabbit farm and are working to improve legal standards at both state and national levels.

Our efforts are yielding significant results. In Jalisco, the state with the highest number of animals killed for human consumption, we played a major role in securing regulations criminalising animal abuse in slaughterhouses. Nationally, our relentless campaigning led to an amendment of Article 73 of the Mexican Constitution, enabling the creation of animal welfare laws that supersede state and local regulations.

Beyond enacting heightened legal provisions for farmed animals, we are also addressing enforcement issues in the UK. In 2022, we published ‘The Enforcement Problem’ report, co-authored with The Animal Law Foundation, highlighting the lack of oversight and legal enforcement on UK farms. We discovered that fewer than 3% of UK farms are inspected by a regulatory body each year and just 0.33% of complaints lead to a prosecution. Ever since we have been working with leading experts and barristers to develop a meaningful solution to this critical problem.

We know that this is a global problem that needs to be tackled around the world, so we’re working hard to encourage fellow animal advocates to also focus on tackling this issue on a country-level. Recently, at the 2024 Animal and Vegan Advocacy Summit, the world’s largest animal rights conference, Animal Equality UK’s Executive Director emphasised to international animal protection groups that enacting laws is just the beginning and that, without proper oversight, the true impact of new laws will not be felt by animals on the ground.

Combatting cruelty

The best way you can help all farmed animals is to switch to plant-based alternatives. By not eating animal products, you signal to your friends and family that farmed animals deserve to be loved and cared for just like treasured companion animals. Check out our Love Veg website and kickstart your plant-based journey today.

You can also help the animals trapped in this system of suffering by signing Animal Equality’s petition urging the UK government to enforce existing laws and prosecute those who abuse animals. Help the UK become a pioneer in global animal protection law enforcement. This will serve as a beacon for other countries to follow, ensuring that animals like the rabbits, cows, pigs and others are better protected from some of the worst abuses happening on farms.

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