NORWALK, Iowa -- United Airlines is dealing with another public relations headache after a 3-foot-long rabbit died aboard a flight on April 20th. The giant rabbit, named Simon, was Iowa bound after a purchase from a United Kingdom breeder.
“Had a lot of phone calls, had a lot of messages, lot of emails. Kind of came out of nowhere,” said Bryan Bergdale, who lead the group that bought the animal.
It’s been a long week for Bergdale. He was in charge of tracking down a rabbit for the "Peoples Company" in Clive.
He says that the group was interested in winning a prize at the state fair and that’s why they bought the animal. Bergdale says he was waiting and ready to pick up the Simon at the Kansas City Airport, when he got the unfortunate news about Simon.
“The lady at United called and had informed me that it had passed away in Chicago. I was pretty disappointed,” said Bergdale.
The United rep didn’t give any other details on how the 10-month-old rabbit died. Just saying the animal didn’t survive the flight from the U.K.
What was so confusing about the call for Bergdale was that the breeder wasn’t concerned that the flight would harm the animal at all.
“She wasn’t. She had used "Jets 4 Pets" in the past and never had a problem. She seemed pretty concerned about her own rabbits. So, it felt like it was completely safe to do based on how she treated her animals,” said Bergdale.
Bergdale estimates the total the cost of the rabbit and transportation was around $2,300. Both United and the rabbit breeder reached out to the group offering condolences and some sort of refund. Bergdale says they are still trying to figure out what they will do but buying another rabbit could be off the table.
“Don’t know if we want to risk another flight across the Atlantic,” said Bergdale.
He says that a necropsy has been requested to determine a cause of death and they hope to have the results in a couple weeks.