A New Zealand pizza chain hopped into a good deal of controversy for a rabbit pizza it's serving for Easter, and the fur-covered billboard it's using to advertise the meal.
"New For Easter: RABBIT PIZZA," the text on the billboard for Hell Pizza states, continuing, "Made from real rabbit. Like this billboard." Nearly every inch of the larger-than-life billboard is covered in rabbit fur, an effect achieved by nailing up several hundred animal pelts.
— Eater National (@Eater) April 14, 2014
"Look, sometimes in order to make a pizza, you have to kill a few hundred rabbits and nail them to a billboard," wrote one commenter on Reddit. "It's like omelettes and eggs."
"Were the once-lively little animals who were ground into pizza toppings shot, strangled or snared? Were they gassed, or did they have their spines pulled away from their necks?" Mimi Bekhech, PETA U.K.'s associate director, countered to The Huffington Post U.K. "Those are the common ways in which rabbits are killed by people who sell a bit of tat for gloves and collars -- and now, if anyone other than the village bully is buying, to go on pizza. As for the name, 'Hell' sounds about right, because it's what the rabbits likely experienced before they were made part of this tacky PR stunt."
In a Facebook post, Hell Pizza sought to calm the outrage, reminding readers that rabbits are a non-native species in New Zealand where they're considered "very significant" pests.
For those who are concerned, we sourced these rabbit skins via a professional animal tanning company, who in turn sourced them from local meat processing companies where the skins are a regular by-product. Our Rabbit Pizzas are made purely from wild rabbits from Southland and Otago.
Hell Pizza's general manager Ben Cumming told Stop Press, a New Zealand marketing blog, that rabbit is an underrated meat in the country. The blog also writes that rabbit meat is both healthier and more sustainable than most other animals, adding that a rabbit produces six times the meat of a cow given the same amounts of food and water.
For those interested, the pizza itself is topped with smoked wild New Zealand rabbit, toasted pine nuts, beetroot and horopito relish, cream cheese, rosemary and spring onions.