He killed a rabbit live on air, and this is why he did it

June 12, 2015
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Asger Juhl eats the rabbit that he killed during his radio show. COURTESY OF ASGER JUHL

Asger Juhl, a Danish radio host, picked up a bicycle pump on the desk of his Copenhagen studio. He clutched the iron pump in his hand and swiftly brought it down against the back of the head of a 9-week-old rabbit named Allan. Juhl then followed the recommended instructions for killing a rabbit — if you intend to cook it — by wringing its neck with a dishcloth. It died live on the air.

Since that broadcast on May 25, Juhl has received hand-written hate letters, emails, tweets and Facebook messages from all over the world.

One person wrote him in German: “… I wish you the worst diseases and a slow, gruesome death ….”

Another wrote: “Jou [sic] are the most terrible man in the world, here in Holland many people hate you i [sic] hope you will die soon.”

So far, more than 34,000 people have signed a petition to have him fired, and the Danish police are investigating death threats against him and his children. But what does Juhl have to say about his act and the reactions it has caused? I called Juhl, a former colleague, and asked him why he would kill a rabbit during a live radio show.

“We wanted to expose people’s hypocrisy in relation to animals,” Juhl said. “Either we stand by the fact that we kill and eat animals or we take the consequence of what we feel and become vegetarians.”

When the story went viral on social media, the famous comedian and animal-rights supporter Ricky Gervais tweeted: “I just battered a Danish DJ to death with a bicycle pump to show how terrible murder is.”

“Some equate humans and animals,” said Juhl. “But that would mean that one should slaughter people and sell them in the supermarket. Or that one should become a vegetarian. If a person belongs to either of these extremes, I accept the point of view that one should have equal respect for animals and humans.”

Asked why a rabbit had to die for him to prove a point, he said that he didn’t want to lie on air by pretending to kill it, and that he couldn’t have confronted listeners with reality or whipped up as strong a reaction if he had just talked about killing it instead of doing it. He added that the animal didn’t suffer because he consulted a professional animal caretaker before killing it, and that it didn’t go to waste. He cooked a ragout out of the meat. He argues that alone proves the point.

“If we hadn’t eaten the rabbit that day, we would have went to the store and bought steaks,” he said. “We would still indirectly have killed an animal just by eating it. When you eat meat, an animal dies, and we wanted to confront listeners with that reality.”

He said listeners could have turned off their radio if they didn’t want to hear the sound of him killing the rabbit.

“And from the rabbit’s perspective, it doesn’t make a difference if it dies in a radio studio or in nature,” Juhl argued.

But has the death of the rabbit changed people’s relationship to animals? Juhl says he isn’t sure.

“I honestly don’t know if people have become vegetarians or animal activists or meat eaters because of this,” he said. “I’m just interested in people thinking about the world they live in. I don’t care what conclusion they reach.”

Despite all the outrage, he says he has no regrets about taking the rabbit’s life.

“But at one point, I considered if it was dangerous because I received so many death threats,” he said. “And if someone acted on those threats, I don’t think it would have been worth it.”

Juhl’s killing of the rabbit wasn’t his first attempt at provocation, and he hasn’t always focused on animal rights. Last June, he flashed a Tibet T-shirt in front of Liu Yunshan, one of the top leaders of the Communist Party of China, at an opening of a Chinese culture center in Copenhagen. About two months later, Juhl put on a yarmulke and walked down a Copenhagen street to prove a point about anti-Semitism. But never before has he been the subject of this much attention.

“For a week I was more hated than [Abu Bakr] al-Baghdadi from Islamic State,” said Juhl.

Juhl is not the first Dane to receive international attention for killing an animal. In February last year, the scientific director of a Danish zoo received hate emails and death threats after deciding that the zoo should kill and publicly dissect a giraffe called Marius because of European laws on inbreeding. A month later, the same zoo decided to kill four healthy lions to renew its breeding stock.

Juhl says he wasn’t inspired to kill the rabbit by the other incidents. But he thinks the world’s interest in what he did is related to Denmark’s image.

“People like the story of the little fairy-tale country, the happiest country in the world, which is really filled with barbaric people who mistreat animals,” he said, sarcastically. “It’s a good story.”

6 comments

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Sick freak. If he’s not single now….. he will be.

Posted by Solidar | Report as abusive

Bestiality is still legal in Denmark I believe. Says a lot about the country!!!!!
This idiot just wanted to be famous by being provocative.

Posted by busterballs | Report as abusive

Many people in “The West” are completely and utterly divorced from basic realities of life. This in of itself need not be such a problem but for the fact that their ignorance has an inverse correlation to their need to lecture on those things they do not understand but feel strongly about.

Posted by RawShark | Report as abusive

I was raised n a small midwestern city where they kill 10,000 cattle every day, chop them up into steaks, and ship them all over the world. So killing a single rabbit was not particularly significant to me.

Posted by Teledon | Report as abusive

Yes, our modern lifestyle has detached us from the sources of our food, whether they are meat or vegetables. Him killing an animal on the air won’t change that in the slightest. Seems like a shock-jock move to garner attention. The idea behind a bicycle pump being the tool is also clearly designed to convey ‘shock’ to the listener. I am sure there are much more standard tools he could have used to do the deed.

Posted by pyradius | Report as abusive

@Solidar – why is he sick?

Posted by jmmx | Report as abusive