Radio 24/7 presenter Asger Juhl hit nine-week-old Alan three times over the head with a bicycle pump – and claimed the macabre stunt was designed to highlight the hypocrisy of animal rights campaigners who eat meat from supermarkets. The rabbit reportedly twitched several times before dying.

Linse Kessler, an activist who had been part of an earlier studio debate, talked her way back inside in a desperate attempt to save Alan. She chased 34-year-old Juhl around the table but was unable to prevent him killing the animal. Juhl said he had wished to find out whether he would have become so attached to Alan by the end of the show that he would be unable to kill him.

A video of meat being fried was posted on the station’s Facebook page along with a comment from the station saying that Juhl and co-host Kristoffer Eriksen would be eating Alan. However, the BBC reported that Juhl had taken the carcase home and skinned it with the help of his children – aged six and eight – with a view to making rabbit ragout.

The broadcast prompted an angry response from listeners, with many calling for a boycott of the station.

The station said in a statement that Alan had been slaughtered humanely and painlessly “to put the widespread hypocrisy in our relationship to animals to debate.”

The statement continued: “Our rabbit has had a good life, as a contrast to the way our industrialised agriculture treats animals every day. (At) the meat counter…most of us without any great reflection buy slaughtered animals who have had a terrible life. It evokes reactions from customers only to a very limited extent.

“It is not our wish to offend anyone with this debate. And we regret that many people have misunderstood our message. But the hope is that this heated debate creates better conditions for animals in Danish agriculture.”