Mammals viewers horrified by gruesome Easter bunny scenes

Sir David Attenborough's new nature series left viewers shocked at the brutality of a rabbit being eaten by predators on Easter Sunday.

Mammals aired an unfortunate hunting scene on Easter Sunday. (BBC screengrab)
Mammals aired an unfortunate hunting scene on Easter Sunday. (BBC screengrab)

What did you miss?

Sir David Attenborough's new wildlife series Mammals launched on Easter Sunday, but left viewers feeling anything but warm and fuzzy with scenes of a rabbit being torn apart by a coyote.

The BBC One episode followed a pack of coyotes in Chicago who had become nocturnal to be able to hunt uninterrupted by humans, but their prey included a cute-looking bunny in unfortunately timed scenes that aired over Easter.

What, how and why?

Chicago's coyotes were ruthless hunters. (BBC screengrab)
Chicago's coyotes were ruthless hunters. (BBC screengrab)

Mammals viewers were put off their Easter eggs on Easter Sunday as Sir David Attenborough's new wildlife series debuted with scenes of a bunny being ripped apart by predators.

The documentary followed Chicago's coyotes and their nocturnal hunting habits, giving viewers a reminder of the brutality of nature as one coyote was shown ripping the head off a rabbit.

Attenborough explained how the coyotes had become nocturnal to avoid humans and had even learned how to safely cross city roads.

He said: "The reason for these urban journeys – Chicago's downtown parks. Little oases of wilderness that attract a surprising variety of other wildlife in considerable numbers."

Viewers were shocked at the bunny's fate on Easter Day. (BBC screengrab)
Viewers were shocked at the bunny's fate on Easter Day. (BBC screengrab)

Mammals then featured a shot of a cute rabbit eating grass in the park, but things quickly turned horrifying as moments later the coyote was shown tearing its head off and eating it.

Attenborough said: "The coyotes don't live on trash. They are skilful hunters. Before dawn arrives, these wily coyotes retreat into the shadows...They have mastered the dark and found the richest rewards."

Viewers tuning in on Easter Sunday were shocked, as one person commented on X: "The bunny got eaten on Easter Sunday. Come on David I’m still eating my tea."

Someone else added: "Good on the BBC for ending Easter Sunday with a coyote eating a bunny head," as another person commented: "Not the bunnies getting eaten on Easter Sunday. Fabulous viewing as always though."

Another viewer wrote: "Kids not done crying over that and then those fennec fox carcasses ruin their family evening."

What else happened on Mammals?

Mammals,31-03-2024,1 - Dark,Just the size of a Chihuahua,  fennec foxes are the world's smallest wild dog. Its huge ears give it a remarkable ability to hunt prey that often hides underground.  ,Bruno D'Amicis,Bruno D'Amicis
The fennec foxes met a tragic end. (BBC)

There were further upsetting scenes in the series' opening episode as the crew spent months tracking and filming fennec foxes in the Sahara, but found their project ended in tragedy when the carcasses of two missing foxes were discovered.

Attenborough explained in his narration on the show that, although some people target fennec foxes for meat or for the pet trade, the crew believed that these ones had been killed "more shockingly" for fun. Viewers, too, were upset at the fate of these beautiful animals.

"Here were the very foxes we had been hoping to bring to the screen; trapped, skinned and discarded," researcher Tom Parry wrote. "The delicate little paws that had been making those beautiful tracks in the sand severed and thrown aside next to cigarette butts, crisp packets and other litter."

Parry added: "I was overwhelmed by the sheer futility of it and was surprised to find myself succumb to tears. We’d come to love these little desert companions as they had slowly learnt to accept us."

Mammals airs on BBC One at 7pm on Sundays.

Read more: David Attenborough