Visitors to London on Saturday could have been forgiven for thinking the Easter bunny was working overtime this year, as mobs of giant rabbits worked off their Easter chocolate consumption with energetic aerobic routines outside a number of tube stations.
The performances were organised by Compassion in World Farming's London supporters, to highlight the plights of millions of rabbits farmed in battery-hen conditions.
London local group co-coordinator Cari Thomas explained the motivation for their action: "The flash mob made the most of our freedom of movement, but tragically thousands of rabbits are kept in battery farm conditions, in overcrowded cages where they are unable to move or turn around, let alone graze, dig or jump.
The EU has laws that ban barren cages for hens now, but there is nothing to protect rabbits. It's barbaric, people have to know and things have to change."
Emma Slawinski, Compassion's Head of Campaigns and Advocacy said:
"Although the aerobics display raised some smiles, it also raises an important animal welfare issue. Keeping animals in conditions where they are unable to graze and move naturally causes them unnecessary distress and suffering. Such cruelty has no place in today's farming."
Nearly 1.2 billion rabbits are slaughtered annually for meat worldwide; over half are in China. Rabbits are the second most farmed species in the EU with over 326 million slaughtered for meat ever year, the majority of which is in Italy, Spain and France. Nearly all farmed rabbits for meat and fur are kept in barren environments often in cages where their natural behaviour is severely restricted.
Recent investigations by Compassion discovered rabbits farmed in appalling conditions in France, Spain and Italy. The investigation found thousands of rabbits crammed into tiny cages with no room to move, with no straw or comfort and mounting piles of faeces underneath them. In some cases there were bins of rabbit carcasses in the vicinity.