Interviewed: The Danish DJ who killed a rabbit on air

Interview by Ben Mundy, words by Sam Datta-Paulin
Newsbeat reporter

Published
Asger JuhlImage source, Asger Juhl

He's the Danish radio host who killed a baby rabbit live on air, in a stunt he said was designed to ignite debate about our meat eating habits.

Asger Juhl, a presenter on 24/7, hit the nine-week-old bunny, called Alan, repeatedly with an iron bike pump after a segment on the hypocrisy of animal rights campaigners who eat supermarket meat.

He's been widely criticised for the act. Now, Asger has told Newsbeat his side of the story.

Warning - this story contains themes some readers may find disturbing.

The host said: "I did it to show the hypocrisy in the debate. Many people are outraged by what I did, at the same time many of these people will eat meat. And when they eat meat, an animal will die.

Image source, Getty Images

"You cannot say: 'It's terrible to kill an animal' and then eat meat. These things are connected.

"And then we did it because we wanted to eat it. We ate it yesterday night. We had it for dinner. It was nice."

He continued: "We are animals and we eat meat. That's the way it is, and we have to be confronted with the fact that animals die when we eat meat. This is just a fact of life."

One side effect of the stunt has been a slew of threats towards the host and his family, most of which are too graphic to be printed.

When asked whether he expected the backlash, Asger responded: "No, not in this way. I've had death threats from Russia - people from Russia wanting to kill my children, Danish listeners and people threatening to kill me. I was not prepared for that.

"I knew, however, that we would spark debate. We were provocative, on purpose. Of course there are some misunderstandings we need to deal with. People are saying we didn't do it in a humane way - we did."

He added that he was taking the death threats seriously.

One of the key criticisms of the Asger is that he bludgeoned the rabbit with a bicycle pump.

He responded: "It was made of iron.

"What I did, I called up a zoo in Denmark - a guy who kills rabbits, to feed them to the predators in the zoo. He uses an iron stick. I didn't have a stick but I did have a bicycle pump made out of iron. It's the exact same thing.

Image source, Getty Images

"We held it in the back of its body, and I hit it very hard. And I hit it two times more, just to be sure. But it broke the neck of the rabbit the first time.

"This is the most humane way to kill a rabbit."

On air, the presenter described the death of the rabbit in detail.

"We were also talking about how I'm feeling. I wasn't ready for a bad experience, but it was actually a bad experience in some ways. I wasn't breathing normally, I was tense," Asger said.

"It was not a comfortable minute."

When we asked if he had been expecting a difficult experience, he said: "Well, I've killed animals before. Chickens, ducks, a lot of fish."

So why was this different?

"I don't know. It's been a while since I killed a mammal. It has these nice… It had these big black eyes. It was cute. It had long fur. Maybe that's something."

Image source, Asger Juhl

Another problem many listeners had with the stunt was the lack of sensitivity they saw in killing a rabbit on air, in a light hearted, almost comic segment.

Did Asger think that cheapened his message? No: "You know, what happened just before I killed the rabbit is that one of the [guests] tried to take the rabbit from me.

"This was a woman, very well known in Denmark. She chased me around the table in the studio.

"I'd never tried anything like it. It was a very comic moment as well as a serious one."

He went on: "Are you not allowed to laugh when you go to the zoo and watch the lions eat meat?

"Are you not allowed to laugh when you go to the zoo and watch the sea lions eat live fish?

"We weren't laughing because the rabbit died."

Asger insists he ate the rabbit after the stunt and fully intended to: "It had plenty of meat. We ate it yesterday. It wasn't a full meal for two people, but almost."

Image source, Asger Juhl
Image caption,
Asger's family ate Alan

"It wasn't a baby rabbit. It was a young rabbit."

He went on to talk about skinning it in the garden in front of his young children. "They felt sorry for the rabbit, especially my daughter. But at the same time she was very interested in the process of that rabbit becoming dinner."

The host told Newsbeat his bosses have been fully behind him, despite the backlash: "I have the full support of the station. I'm going on air this afternoon and we're going to speak to the angry listeners."

And what does he think they'll say to him? "That I'm an idiot."

"I don't think I am. You know what? I killed an animal and I ate it. Did you have meat yesterday? Are you going to eat meat today? In that process an animal will die."

Having said that, he isn't planning on repeating the stunt: "I have no plans to kill other animals within the next couple of days, I must tell you."

Follow @BBCNewsbeat on Twitter, BBCNewsbeat on Instagram and Radio1Newsbeat on YouTube and you can now follow BBC_Newsbeat on Snapchat