ATLANTA (CAP) - The Popeyes Chicken And Biscuits franchise launched a campaign this week to help provide for the scores of rabbits given as gifts for Easter and later abandoned.
"It makes me sad to think that people treat rabbits like disposable pets or as gifts," said Popeyes CEO Cheryl Bachelder. "We feel by offering this option, the rabbits are dealt with humanely and will also make hundreds of our loyal customers happy.
"The fact that we get free stew meat out of it is strictly ancillary," she said.
Popeyes limited edition "Easter Bunny Stew" will be sold at their restaurants through June, according to Bachelder.
The New York City-based House Rabbit Society confirmed that thousands of baby rabbits, chicks and ducks are purchased as surprise holiday gifts at Easter time, only to be abandoned or left at shelters in the following weeks. But they're not sure the Popeyes plan is the best solution.
"Nobody wants to see rabbits abandoned by the side of the road, but to use them in a massive, mass-marketed fast-food stew product is only marginally better, in my opinion," said Jules Kotter of the Rabbit Society. "That said, they do make good eating."
The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals were, not surprisingly, more adamant in their opposition to the plan.
"We think rabbits are like kittens, except with longer ears, and a little smellier," said PETA spokesman Dan Sharon. "Would you put your kitten into a stew? Because if you would you're an even sicker bastard than I thought you were."
To protest yesterday, PETA protesters wearing only flesh-colored thongs and pasties - mirroring their anti-Santa campaign from last December - threw fake blood on customers coming out of Popeyes restaurants around the country, chanting, "I'd rather go nude than eat rabbits for food! Bunnies we think should be patted not stewed! 'Cause it's our attitude that it would be rude, dude!"
"We really have to get some shorter chants," admitted Sharon.
But according to Farnsworth, the rabbits will be dealt with humanely. He said all Popeyes franchises have been outfitted with anonymous "bunny bins," which resemble an after-hours bank deposit slot. Rabbit owners having second thoughts about keeping their new pets can deposit their bunnies into the slot directly from their vehicles and drive off, no questions asked.
"If they have chicks and ducks they want to throw in there too, that's fine," said Bachelder. "Once they're in the stew they all pretty much taste like chicken anyway."
Bachelder said rumors that the slots lead directly to a deep fryer are completely unfounded. "That would be against the law in 47 of the 48 states in the continental U.S.," said Bachelder. "Boy, did we find that out the hard way."
She did add, however, that franchises in Tennessee only would be offering deep-fried bunny flambe as a side dish.
- CAP News Staff