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The EARLESS BUNNY born near the tsunami-damaged Fukushima plant raising new nuclear fears


Fresh fears? This bunny, born without ears, was found near the doomed Fukushima nuclear plant - but experts are sceptical over whether radiation was responsible

Fresh fears over a nuclear leak at the tsunami-ravaged Fukushima plant have re-ignited after a rabbit born close to the facility was discovered with no ears.

Locals have been left wondering whether this earless bunny, which was reportedly found near the facility at the end of last month, is the first sign of side effects from the nuclear catastrophe.

The Fukushima plant suffered catastrophic damage when a tsunami, triggered by an earthquake, swept through the facility in March, destroying reactors.

Mutation suspicions: The bunny with two other rabbits, next to a radiation reading meter

Following a blast at the plant that caused the initial leaks, Japanese officials warned people living near Fukushima to stay indoors, turn off their air conditioning and stop drinking tap water.

Since then, experts have been nervously watching radiation levels in the area around the plant to determine the extent of the leak.

Is the radiation leak worse than expected? The bunny was found just outside the 30km exclusion zone of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station

Earlier this week it was revealed the Japanese government has more than doubled the estimate for the amount of radiation released by the plant.

The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency - a government watchdog - also said during a briefing in Tokyo that it is now believed that reactor cores in some of the units at the plant melted more quickly than previously thought.

Abnormal: Earless rabbits are rare and can occur either because of a genetic defect or through the mother rabbit biting off the ears if she is distressed

A video of the bunny was posted on YouTube and has quickly spread as an internet viral, labelled the 'nuclear rabbit'.

However according to the website NY Daily News, experts are sceptical as to whether radiation could be responsible for the bunny's lack of ears.

While high doses of radiation can cause cancer and other major health problems, radiation experts believe the likelihood of the rabbit's strange features being a result of nuclear mutation is very slim.

Sceptical: Experts are uncertain about links between the rabbit's strange appearance and the nuclear leak

In 2008, a healthy rabbit was born without ears in the UK, aptly-named Van Gogh.

While it is a rare occurrence, the deformity can happen because of a genetic defect or through the mother biting off the ears is she is distressed.

Dana Krempels, from the US-based House Rabbit Society, told the NY Daily News: 'I have to wonder whether there are any other bunnies in the group that have anomalies like that.

'I didn't see any. And that would make me very hesitant to cry "radiation" just because one baby bunny is missing his external ear pinnae.

'Whether it's due to radiation or some other factor is not possible to say, since these types of malformations do occasionally occur in the absence of known mutagens.'

However, rabbits' gestation periods are short - about 30 days - so if the bunny was born near Fukushima, this could be seen as an indication of radiation poisoning, as it would have been conceived well after the nuclear leak.

source: dailymail