Scandal-hit United Airlines is facing a new PR disaster — after a valuable giant rabbit died mysteriously on one of its planes.
Three-foot Simon, destined to be the world’s biggest bunny, died in the cargo section of a Boeing 767 after flying out of Heathrow to a new celebrity owner in the US.
Breeder Annette Edwards, of Stoulton, Worcs, said: “He was fit as a fiddle. I’ve sent rabbits round the world, nothing like this happened.” United’s reputation is at rock bottom after film of a doctor being dragged from a jet went viral.
Edwards, 65, said 3ft Simon, expected to grow to be the world’s biggest rabbit, and was healthy when placed in the cargo hold.
But Simon, heading to a new celebrity owner in the US, was found dead after the Boeing 767-300 landed at O’Hare — the airport where a doctor was violently dragged off a UA plane.
Annette said: “Simon had a vet’s check-up three hours before the flight and was fit as a fiddle.
“Something very strange has happened and I want to know what. I’ve sent rabbits all around the world and nothing like this has happened before."
Annette, of Stoulton, Worcs, added: “The client who bought Simon is very famous. He’s upset.”
United Airlines is still reeling from the global outrage after security guards were filmed violently dragging Dr Dao, 69, off an overbooked flight at O’Hare two weeks ago.
He refused to give up his seat and suffered a broken nose, concussion and lost two teeth when removed.
An airport source said news of Simon’s demise sparked a panic among UA staff, adding: “After the viral video no-one wanted responsibility for killing what was to be the world’s biggest rabbit.”
The airline now faces a legal claim from the Simon’s new owner and former Playboy model Annette, who once had plastic surgery to look like cartoon character Jessica Rabbit.
Simon, a continental giant rabbit, was 10 months old. He was on track to out-grow 4ft 4in dad Darius, the world’s biggest rabbit.
Continental giants cost £5,000 a year to keep. Annette’s rabbits are hired out at £500 a time.
United Airlines said: “We are reviewing this matter.”
This story originally appeared in The Sun.