Baby bunny blowup

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A game at the Union County Fair, that once offered rabbits as a prize, now gives stuffed animals to players able to toss a ping-pong ball onto a floating dish. The game switched prizes after the local fair board told the amusement company it could not give live animals as prizes. The fair and the amusement company came under national scrutiny after an animal rescue group took objection to the game.

(Journal-Tribune photo by Mac Cordell)

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After being met with opposition on social media, the Union County Fair Board is no longer allowing rabbits to be offered as prizes.

Sunday evening, MAR Animal Rescue, a nonprofit organization in Utah, used a social media platform to post a photo of a pen with several live rabbits offered as prizes for a midway game at the Union County Fair. The post stated “We need you to be the voice for the voiceless and let the fair organizers know this isn’t okay.”

In less than 24 hours, hundreds of people commented on and shared the post. People throughout the country messaged Union County Fair officials to voice their concern.

“I am appalled that in 2019, in this age of information, that animals are being used as prizes in games,” Heather Neu commented on the social media post.

Other posts were threatening. Social media users promised to drive to the fair to protest.

Jared Kuhlwein, a member of the Union County Fair Board of Directors, said the fair board was unaware that rabbits were being offered as prizes before the vendors arrived on the fairgrounds.

He said once it was brought to the fair board’s attention on Sunday, they felt it didn’t align with the values of the fair.

“We just felt it wasn’t the right thing to do,” he said. “We care for animals.”

On Monday morning, the fair board asked the vendors to stop offering the rabbits as prizes.

Instead of winning rabbits, he said contestants in the game can now win stuffed animals or goldfish.

An employee from Big O Amusements, the company that provides rides and entertainment at the Union County Fair, said the rabbits were treated well when they were offered as prizes.

The employee, who did not want to give her name, said the rabbits were in a large pen with room to move around. She said it had two bowls of water for them to drink from and bags of ice for them to lean against if they got too hot.

The employee said she felt the rabbits were kept in better conditions than other animals at the fair, such as the horses that are used for pony rides.

However, since they were removed as prizes, she said the rabbits are now being kept in the smaller cages that are used to transport them between fairs.

She said she didn’t know where the next fair they’re traveling to is located, but the rabbits will likely be used as prizes there.

The employee said she did not see any protesters. She added that she hasn’t heard of objections to having rabbits as prizes at other fairs, but she can’t be sure as this is the first time she has actually run the stand.



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