Explosive experts arrived at the women’s toilets at Adelaide airport to investigate a bomb threat on Wednesday.
In the toilets, they found a pink Lorna Jane bag that held a dwarf rabbit wearing a red leash.
The Australian Federal Police (AFP), who were the first to arrive at the scene, called the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA). Meanwhile, police placed the rabbit in a large cardboard box and bought him some carrots from Subway.
The RSPCA is now looking for information as to why a one-year-old, harness-trained rabbit was deserted at the airport.
Nalika Van Loenen, an RSPCA rescue officer, said that she had a few scenarios in mind that would explain the odd situation, although she had never experienced anything like this in the 26 years she’s worked for the RSPCA, according to a statement.
One possible scenario was that the owner had left the pet at the airport knowing he would be looked after. Another other scenario was that the owner planned on smuggling him on the plane but withdrew at the last second.
South Australia’s Animal Welfare Act 1985 (pdf) states in section 13 that any person that is guilty of ill treatment to an animal that doesn’t lead to death or serious harm to the animal, can face up to a maximum penalty of $20,000 or two years imprisonment. Abandoning an owned animal would be considered ill treatment to the animal.
Van Loenen said that rabbits are prey animals and therefore get scared and stressed easily. It would have been more humane to leave the rabbit at an animal shelter where there are people who have the capability and the capacity to look after him.