Pop-up bunny cafe cancelled after threats
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The pop-up bunny cafe that stoked the fury of animal rights campaigners this week has been cancelled after controversy and alleged threats.
Bunny Blossom Cafe was scheduled to take place in Islington’s Chapel Market from June 5 until early July, but the Facebook page has now been taken down, with the organisers stating that the event will not be going ahead due to worries about safety.
They said: “Regretfully we won’t be opening our café as we are worried for the safety of our staff and supporters.”
The people behind the pop-up explained that although the majority of feedback “has been positive”, with support from ‘vets’, “others working with animals, and vegans”, they have “also had a lot of negative and in some cases threatening comments”.
As reported by the Gazette, the proposed event offered people the chance to have afternoon tea alongside rescue rabbits, and to get advice from rabbit experts before potentially rescuing the animals and taking them home.
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This led to a backlash on animal welfare grounds, with several animal charities expressing concern and pointing out that rabbits can experience extreme stress from being handled by strangers.
Bunny Blossom Café said that the negativity was due to some people misconstruing the nature and motives behind the event, and said that they would ‘happily admit’ that this might be because they “didn’t fully explain how every aspect of the café was to be run”.
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They now say that they “never intended to allow [their] guests to pick up the rabbits”, and that the café would have been set up with the rabbits in a separate enclosure, from which the ‘naturally curious’ critters would be able to approach customers “if they wished”.
Bunny Blossom Café stated: “We would never force our rabbits to approach our customers.”
They added that guests would have been given rules on how to treat the rabbits, staff would have monitored the animals’ welfare, and that it had been made clear that children were not welcome at the café.
The anonymous organisers said they had many years of experience in looking after rescue rabbits, and that the ‘key organiser holds a diploma in animal psychology.
“The project was set up with the aim of educating the general public as to the joys but also the many difficulties of keeping rabbits and of course other pets- we intended to actually make people reconsider keeping a rabbit as a pet, unless of course they were absolutely sure they were ready and able for such an endeavour.”
In their email, they said that they chose the ‘imaginative solution’ of a café environment as it is “far more engaging than a slightly uninviting animal shelter.”
To accusations that they were planning on “making a profit from the animals”, Bunny Blossom said that after substantial costs including vets’ bills and rent, “if there were any profits then we would have donated them to various animal welfare charities”.
However, they then confusingly state that “then and only then would we have taken what small amount was left, if any, to invest in further events for educating people about pets.”