Whole Foods Market has said in their press materials and in interviews that they developed a set of animal welfare standards for rabbits in order to provide for the “overall health and well-being” of the rabbits who will be killed and sold at Whole Foods stores. According to the company, the standards “are a direct result of a rigorous four-year process to address the welfare issues in rabbit production.”
While Whole Foods Market has never released to the public any photos of the suppliers who provide the baby rabbits for Whole Foods, their internal documents which were provided to staff when the rabbit meat program was introduced include photos that show how the rabbits are supposed to be raised. The photo at left, for example, comes with the a description of the conditions in which the baby rabbits allegedly live during their eight weeks of life:
Group pens provide: social interactions, plenty of space, dry bedding, platforms to jump on or hide beneath, branches to gnaw, hiding places, and edible fibrous material.
However, RAN has gotten a hold of a series of images taken directly from one of Iowa Rabbit’s suppliers which show how the rabbits are actually raised. The photo at right demonstrates that the Whole Foods photo, shared with staff as part of the company’s campaign to get employees to buy into the notion of rabbit meat, has no bearing on the real conditions in which these animals are raised.
Rabbits raised by the numerous “growers” who provide rabbits to Iowa Rabbit keep their rabbits in the same wire-bottomed cages used in the rest of the rabbit meat industry. They have no hay, no hiding platforms, no branches or other items to gnaw, are watered through a dirty drip system, and are stuffed into cages with very little space for them to move, let alone play. Not a single comfort is provided to these energetic, loving, playful and curious animals who are then slaughtered at 8-10 weeks, in order for Whole Foods customers to have yet another meat to eat, and in order to benefit Whole Foods’ bottom line.
Whose values are reflected in the conditions that these rabbits have to live in?