Saturday, April 16, 2011

Easter Bunnies Don’t Belong in Photo Studios‏

Information from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

Each year, PETA receives scores of calls of concern about the use of live animals -- mainly rabbits, but sometimes ducklings and chicks -- as props in Easter photo sessions. Unsuspecting parents and kids might not realize it, but the animals used in these photo sessions are generally terrified and miserable.

Rabbits are sensitive animals who are easily stressed by unfamiliar surroundings. As “prey” animals, they often panic when handled; a frightened rabbit can bite and scratch, inflicting deep lacerations and puncture wounds. Rabbits are also delicately structured animals whose spines can snap just from being held improperly.

Using live rabbits in Easter promotions can sometimes encourage impressionable children to beg their parents to get rabbits as “pets.” Rabbits are not easy to properly care for, contrary to what pet shops may relay to impulse buyers; they are entirely unsuitable as companions for young children. It’s a sad fact that many of the rabbits purchased on a whim during Easter time die within months -- victims of unintentional neglect and cruelty. Others are abandoned, relegated to tiny outdoor hutches and subjected to weather extremes, dumped at overburdened shelters, or abandoned outdoors, where they are unable to fend for themselves and starve or are killed by predators.

Instead of live animals, a great option for kids is stuffed toy animals. They’re more cost-effective for the studio, and unlike with live rabbits, homes don’t need to be found for them after the Easter season. Using stuffed toys also eliminates the need for businesses to acquire a federal exhibitor’s license from the U.S. Department of Agriculture -- a requirement that PETA finds is mostly ignored by businesses that use rabbits for Easter photo shoots. Fortunately, several large companies -- including Lifetouch, JCPenney, and Sears -- have policies against the use of live animals as props.

In fact, Professional Photographers of America (PPA) -- the largest nonprofit association of its kind in the world -- has taken a stand against the use of live rabbits for photo shoots. Instead, PPA recommends the “Make Mine Chocolate!” campaign, which offers studios a full range of support for using large chocolate Easter bunnies wrapped in colorful foil and publicizing the promotion. PPA notes that studios can garner additional publicity by holding a post-Easter drawing for the chocolate bunny.

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