World’s longest rabbit stolen from owner’s English garden

This rabbit’s tale requires no leap of faith. It is a true story.

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Darius, the world’s longest rabbit, went missing from his home in England on Saturday night, and authorities believe the animal was stolen.

The Flemish giant rabbit, also known as a Continental Giant, is owned by Annette Edwards and is 51 inches long, according to Guinness World Records. He has been the record-holder since 2010, according to the website.

Stoulton, England, where Edwards lives, is about 130 miles northwest of London.

Edwards, who called the alleged theft “a very sad day,” originally offered a £1,000 reward ($1,375) for Darius’ return, the BBC reported. By Tuesday, Edwards had doubled the reward amount, according to USA Today.

Edwards said Darius is “too old to breed now” and pleaded for his return, the BBC reported.

Darius was insured for $1.6 million and traveled with a bodyguard, according to NBC’s Today show in 2010.

In a 2019 interview with the CBC, Edwards described Darius as “an old man” who “can be a bit grumpy,” The New York Times reported.

But, “he hasn’t lost his sparkle,” Edwards said.

“It is believed the Continental Giant rabbit was stolen from its enclosure in the garden of the property of its owners overnight on Saturday (10 April - 11 April),” the West Mercia Police said in a statement. “The rabbit is quite unique in the fact it is 4 feet in size and has been awarded a Guinness Record for being the biggest rabbit in the world.”

Robert Kenny, a professional pet detective, told The Guardian that the theft appeared to be planned, but admitted that the hare was high profile and would be difficult to sell.

“The only way that this can be sold is if it goes out of the U.K. -- it’s still hot, it’s still high profile,” Kenny told the newspaper. “So it’s of paramount importance that borders are closed [to stop] the opportunity for this animal to be moved.

“If the animal remains in the U.K., I have no doubt whatsoever that it has to be recovered. The owner needs to contact ferry ports and make sure that this rabbit does not go outside of the U.K.”

Darius took over the Guinness title when he topped the record, held by his mother Alice, The Guardian reported. Edwards said she kept Darius in a kennel and not in a hutch, and treated him more like a dog than a rabbit.