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Karl Szmolinsky hoists Robert, a robust 23-pounder,
in the back yard of his home in Eberswalde, Germany.
Robert is one of six gray giants, chosen for their breeding potential,
that Szmolinsky sent away to the North Koreans. (Sean Gallup -- Getty Images)
EBERSWALDE, Germany -- Few people raise bigger bunny rabbits than Karl Szmolinsky, who has been producing long-eared whoppers since 1964. His favorite breed, German gray giants, are the size of a full-grown beagle and so fat they can barely hop.
Karl-Heinz Heitz, chairman of the State Association of Rabbit Breeders in Berlin-Brandenburg, said that German gray giants are hard to beat for size but that they aren't cheap to fatten up. It takes wheelbarrow-loads of hay, vegetables and rabbit chow to bring them to maturity.
"Let me say this: There are certainly breeds that are more economically profitable; I do not know why the North Koreans wanted this one," said Heitz, who introduced the Korean officials to Szmolinsky.
Breeds such as New Zealand red or big light silver or Vienna blue are only half as big but are more cost-effective to raise. "You do not have to put in as much to get out a fair amount of meat," Heitz said.