The rabbits in question, referred to in the game as "breedables," are an in-game pet provided by a company named Ozimals. They eat, they breed, they hop around a bit—pretty much what you'd expect from a real-life bunny, minus the poop under the couch—and they are "adorable," according to the report, which over the years has really driven demand for them.
Earlier this week, however, a message appeared on the Ozimals blog, since deleted but available via the Wayback Machine, stating that it had been issued a cease-and-desist letter demanding it "cease all use of Ozimals intellectual property."
"I do not have the means to fight this in court, therefore I have no choice but to comply," continues the post. As a result, databases supporting the bunnies were taken offline on May 17.
This is where it gets interesting. Breedables in Second Life could be made effectively immortal through the purchase of an "Everlasting Timepiece," but all the rest of them (which is most of them) have to "eat," which happens by communicating with the Ozimals database. No database means no food, and no food means no more rabbit.
"Any bunny who is Everlasting will continue to function, as he or she does now: without cost," the Ozimals post said. "Any bunny who is not Everlasting will be unable to eat and will hibernate within 72 hours."
Now, hibernation doesn't sound so awful, except that unless the Ozimals database is restored, those little bunny rabbits are never going to wake up. So it's really "hibernate," in the same sense of your old dog being sent away to live out her twilight years "on a farm." It's a brightly-colored bow on a grim, grey package, and nobody's getting out of it alive.
As for what started the whole bunny-killing beef, a company named Akimeta Ltd., which actually designed the Ozimals, posted a lengthy press release on Google Drive (via Modem World) claiming that the legal dispute between them has actually been ongoing for the past six years. What appears to have brought on the C&D is the alleged dissolution of Ozimals Inc. in September 2016, and the unauthorized transfer of its assets to another party.
"We wish things could have gone another way, but as we have outlined in detail with this document, since Ozimals LLC/Inc. is no longer an operating entity, Cameron Holt does not possess the rights to the Intellectual Properties. Yet, he continued to operate and profit from the business even though it has allegedly been dissolved 9 months ago," the release says. "We are genuinely upset that the actions undertaken by Ozimals LLC/Inc , Cameron Holt and Candace Sargent have led them to the abrupt discontinuation of their game and we regret that in doing so, all members of their community have been so adversely affected."
And of course, all those poor little bunnies. Have a look at some more of them (while you can) below.