The owners of a giant rabbit that died after flying from the United Kingdom to Chicago want to know more about the animal's death and why he was so quickly cremated.
Des Moines Attorney Guy Cook, representing an Iowa group that bought the continental giant rabbit named Simon, said Monday that his clients are troubled that he was cremated soon after his death without a necropsy, or postmortem examination.
Cook said he sent a letter to United Airlines last week but hasn't heard back, other than a confirmation that the matter had been referred to the airline's lawyers.
"United has taken no action to rectify this," Cook said, raising larger questions about how the airline treats the animals it transports. "This case is about more than one rabbit."
A spokesman for United Airlines had earlier said the airline was reviewing its handling of the giant rabbit. Simon was alive and showed no signs of distress upon landing in Chicago on April 20, but he died at a pet holding facility at the airport, spokesman Charles Hobart said.
Asked about the letter from the animal's buyers, the cremation or other issues, Hobart said only that the rabbit's breeder, Annette Edwards was United's customer and that she had turned down an offer of a post-mortem examination. He declined to answer other questions.
Hobart said the airline offered compensation to the breeder but would not disclose the amount.
When he died, Simon was about 3½ feet long and weighed 20 pounds. Cook said he could have grown to weigh 40 pounds, which would make him the world's largest rabbit. Cook says the buyers had planned to enter Simon at the Iowa State Fair and display him later to raise money for the fair.
The owners are seeking the costs of buying and transporting the rabbit — estimated at $2,300 — and future earnings.