Rabbit Jumping: Educational Experience or Flying Circus?

“As the Swedish rabbits cleared the jumps and raced around the course, the spectators at
Earls Court smiled and applauded. Scanning the hundreds of happy onlookers, I couldn’t help but think why has rabbit jumping not become more popular here? Show jumping with rabbits, what’s not to like?

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Clambering over the hay bales and squeezing into the crowd to watch another round of jumping, it struck me how noticeable British jumping rabbits were by their absence. Surely rabbits from the UK can jump? There must be British rabbit jumpers who would happily attend showcase events and less experienced enthusiasts who would love to learn from the Swedish team? Why fly rabbits over from Sweden?”

These were my thoughts as a pet journalist during the London Pet Show in 2012.  In 2016 Burgess Pet Care continue to sponsor the Swedish Rabbit Jumping Team, flying rabbits to UK pet shows, and promoting them as ‘popular attractions’. British rabbit jumping, which can be divided into a few competitive jumpers with RJGB, and handful of regional hobbyists with RJUK, remain absent.

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Originating in Sweden in the 1980s, rabbit jumping (known there as Kaninhoppning) has grown in its homeland and spread across the world. The Swedish national federation now has around 1,000 members, and the pastime has traveled through northern Europe, and jumped to the United States, Canada, Japan and the UK – but still in a small way.

On the surface, I always found the bond of training and handling, healthy exercise, and the spectacle appealing. It showed that rabbits are active animals, they respond well to training, and that “A Hutch is Not Enough” for their living quarters. Today, however, I feel rather uneasy about rabbits flown in from Sweden, ‘performances fives times a day’, and the label of ‘popular attractions’.

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It is obvious that any sponsor, including Burgess Pet Care, wants to attract attention to their brand. In bringing together crowds of ticketed customers, there is the opportunity to sell products whilst raising awareness about rabbit welfare. Yet the lack of British involvement suggests this is about the standard and consistency of jumping at the show. It is about entertainment; entertainment where only specially trained animals flown into the country can perform. The terminology again is making me uncomfortable – but surely as ‘performing pets’ connotations of the circus are unfair? It certainly is a tricky one.

When ‘more rabbits’ are being flown to UK shows, Burgess Pet Care and UK pet shows need to think carefully.

Can ‘Rabbit Show Jumping’ be packaged as rabbit welfare awareness, when rabbit transportation between Sweden and UK could potentially be stressful? Does the public want to see performing animals from overseas at UK pet shows?

What do you think? How you feel? Please consider the Animal Realities and SHARE.

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6 thoughts on “Rabbit Jumping: Educational Experience or Flying Circus?

  1. I have a jumping rabbit and my view is that it has given him so much happiness. I totally agree with ‘a hutch is not enough’. But I feel that rabbits should have the opportunity to have a good run about outside. Before I jump him, I let him have a run around the garden first as a warm up. I only use positive reinforcement to train my rabbit. I NEVER abuse him. After he has done a line of jumps, I rub his head to tell him that he has been good, I then let him rest for a minute, but normally, he just want to keep running! I also let him run around the garden afterwards as a bit of a cool down.
    I know his limitations and I can spot when he is starting to get tired or not up to it. I know that people have issues with rabbit jumping, but I can see the major benefits it has. I have improved my bond with my rabbit too.

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  2. P.S. Why buns have to do anything; cats as pets, don’t do anything but are still loved in their household. Bunnies are suited for self-fullfiled adults not for opportunistic, neurotical individuals.

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  3. Stop with the abuse! Being one of the most abused animal on earth, these wonderful creatures do not need further breeding, exploitation and abuse. BTW, we have two house rabbits and they are free to do whatever they like. They are part of our family and we love them as they are, don’t need to jump or do anything. We love and respect them.

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  4. No, they should not be flown as this is stressful. Videos are all over youtube to learn and articles on the internet. If the UK wants to see them…..they themselves should fly there, not the rabbits.
    Patsy, USA

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Quite honestly I find it unnecessary and rather offensive. Is this how rabbits behave in normal circumstances? This is just another “sport” to make animals look ridiculous and give people a chance to smile condescendingly.

    Liked by 2 people

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