United Airlines just isn’t having a good month.
After an early April incident which saw a man dragged off a United plane and led to international opprobrium (and an even earlier incident that involved the airline telling two girls they couldn’t board a plane due to their clothing choice), the airline now has another PR problem to contend with:
A rabbit was found dead in a United cargo hold.
This wasn’t just any rabbit, the BBC reported on Wednesday. Rather, it was a nearly three-feet-long rabbit named Simon who many thought would soon become the world’s largest rabbit.
Authorities found ten-month-old Simon — whose owner, Annette Edwards, said was “fit as a fiddle” before the flight — in a plane that had arrived at Chicago O’Hare International Airport from London’s Heathrow Airport.
According to Edwards, Simon was on the flight to join his new “celebrity” owner — one who is apparently incensed that he will no longer be able to welcome the rabbit into his home.
“Something very strange has happened and I want to know what,” Edwards told The Sun. “I’ve sent rabbits all around the world and nothing like this has happened before. The client who bought Simon is very famous. He’s upset.”
In a general sense, Edwards is correct in her diagnosis. Data from the U.S. Department of Transportation show that in 2016, just 26 animals died during flights — out of over 500,000 total animals.
The airline subsequently stated that it would investigate Simon’s death. “We were saddened to hear this news,” United said in a statement. “The safety and wellbeing of all the animals that travel with us is of the utmost importance to United Airlines and our PetSafe team. We have been in contact with our customer and have offered assistance. We are reviewing this matter.”
David Dao, the 69-year-old man who United officials injured while dragged him off a plane, did not receive similar sympathy.
For more on United Airlines’ fiasco-filled April, check out their statement on how they would handle the incident with David Dao.