Photographer Receiving Death Threats Over Viral Portraits of Mishandled Ducklings and Bunnies

Photographer Receiving Death Threats Over Viral Portraits of Mishandled Ducklings and Bunnies

A photographer’s child photo series has gone viral - complete with death threats – after he was accused of animal abuse for his use of live baby animals in his portraits.

The photographer at the center of the controversy is Mercer Harris, who is based in Washington, Georgia, and claims to have been a professional photographer for over 30 years.

Live animals have featured within Harris’ shoots for much of his career. However, it wasn’t until last week that significant attention was drawn to his images. Many of them show young children, albeit innocently, mishandling the animals. Ducklings are shown being grabbed by the neck or hung upside down – while bunnies are lifted by their ears.

Naturally, Harris’ social pages have been awash with negative comments, with many writing scathing remarks on any of his pictures they can find – regardless of whether they feature animals or not. He’s been labeled “the worst kind of human,” with some calling for intervention from animal welfare officers. The more extreme remarks include threats to his daughter’s life, or wishing terminal illness on Harris himself. Others went as far as to post his personal details, including his phone number and address, online.

Speaking to PetaPixel, Harris confirmed his local sheriff’s department had been contacted over the images, but it was ruled he had committed no crimes. He said:

We’ve never had an animal harmed or die over 30 years of photography. There’s not a single duck that died during these sessions. We completely understand that the ducks are babies.

What’s more, Harris insists the ducklings he purchases for the portraits are all Peking ducks, that would otherwise face being slaughtered. All of the animals – bunnies included – are sold to private homes after the shoots.

The images in question have since been removed from his pages.

Lead image source: Pixabay via Pexels.

Log in or register to post comments


I think the problem people are having is founded -people understand that the kids don't know better, but the adults around do. If you're using a live rabbit as a prop, and the kid holds it up by it's ears you grab the rabbit from the fucking kid. Shit happens but it appears, to many it seems, myself included, the offensive part is lack of real concern for the well being of the animals.

Jen Photographs's picture

Yep. And don't take a picture first!

Fucking kid? Sig du uuhr froh wohnsch du wiet weg!

Chad D's picture

ditto and over and over and over and the only reason you bought that bunny was to have it go through that abuse and then get rid of it

Paul Lindqvist's picture

It's the photographer's job to make sure no one is harmed during his shoot, including animals. Ignorant at best, and lazy. I couldn't care less about the excuses about no animals dying or that he was not considered breaking any laws.

Fegelah Boychic's picture

" alleged mishandled ".

Todd Boyer's picture

Probably not the best decision to use live animals in these types of photos. And if you must use them, they should not be handled by the children. As far as him being labeled “the worst kind of human”, I think that title is saved for those who threaten him, his family, or wish ill upon him.

Tony Tumminello's picture

I saw some of the photos from a the Petapixel article, and quite frankly they're extremely sad to see. Ducklings being picked up by their heads and necks, rabbits being grabbed and picked up by the ears. It really looks like there's minimal concern for the animals; he claimed that there were adults on set to step in if the animals are being treated improperly...but I find that difficult to believe as those incidents were instead bizarrely featured on his portfolio! And I'm sorry but how were those the "keepers"? Are parents into photos of their children abusing animals? Is there really a market for that?

The death threats are always uncalled for, there's infinitely better ways to handle stuff like this.

Studio 403's picture

My dad once pulled my ears for being a knucklehead. He got my attention. My loving father is gone now. So no one can give him death threats. This animal thing has got to tone down. The rhetoric is so far out in zombie land, I guess one day you gonna gets the death penalty for killing a wasp. I must admit, cats are the only mistake nature ever made.

Meme Only's picture

Seems like he didn't pull hard enough

Jim Bolen's picture

If you're a gardener, cats are horrid creatures.

Anonymous's picture


You think there is a widespread overreaction, because you, presumedly believe animal cruelty is OK (I don't agree, but fair enough).

Then you go on to say that cats were a mistake of nature. There's an implied 'but' in there (as though you intend to argue against your stated position); however, you've already implied that animal cruelty is OK and should therefore be free from consequence. So what are you saying; unintentional cruelty against animals is OK and cats should be deliberately tortured?

I struggled writing the response because what you say is such slop.

Chad D's picture

so you are saying your dad swung you around by your ears ? then grabbed you by the ankles and slammed you into the ground over and over then threw you in a pond ? grabbed your arm and swung you around then threw you about 20x your height into the air ?

and then had 20 other dads lined up to repeat the same thing over and over and over just to take photos of it?

then after the holidays gave you away

agree it is over done often but in this case its abuse

Chad D's picture

her quote
"Harris insists the ducklings he purchases for the portraits are all Peking ducks, that would otherwise face being slaughtered. All of the animals – bunnies included – are sold to private homes after the shoots."

well I guess in that case since all humans die we can just abuse them to ? I mean why not
go out to farms and start abusing all their animals

someone on a pet forum did post though her and the sheriff are friends ? so I doubt he will do squat

they need to face criminal charges flat out

nobody should be threatening them that is for sure

this is not some OH my kid kicked the dog or pulled the bunnies ear when you saw the other photos that this goes on over and over it is abuse a single time with a family pet etc. one thing buying a animal just to do this then discard them is abuse
huge difference

Anonymous's picture

Here are some rational responses to this situation:

1) Don't mistreat animals, or photograph people mistreating animals
2) Don't send people death threats

Okay guys. We eat, kill and hunt every animal we can catch on this planet. But You are talking here about mishandled animals because of this pictures? Then, let's eat more chicken nuggets.

We the human race. There is nothing to lol.