Apr 222017
 

When I campaigned for animal rights as a teenager in the 1980s, anti-fur campaigners produced an iconic poster. Alongside an image of a smartly dressed woman holding a bloody fur coat was a cracker of a slogan: “It takes up to 40 dumb animals to make a fur coat. But only one to wear it.”

Even as an angry teen I could see the complexity of some animal rights issues. Vivisection was sometimes used to save human lives. Nutrients can be gained by eating meat. But fur? Fur seemed a no-brainer. Why should animals die to produce a ridiculous-looking coat? If you’d have told me back then that we’d still be discussing this three decades on, I wouldn’t have believed you. Surely the industry would have been eradicated?

Progress has been made – fur farms were banned in the UK in 2003, and selling cat, dog and seal products is also illegal. But imported fur from other species, including fox, rabbit, mink, coyote, raccoon dog and chinchilla, is still allowed. And this week an investigation by Sky News found that supposedly “fake fur” products, including gloves, hats and shoes, at leading retailers actually contain real fur from cats, raccoon dogs, rabbits, mink and fox.

Fox in fur farm (The Ghosts In Our Machine_We Animals © 2012)

This discovery has upset shoppers who thought the fur they were buying was synthetic. Never mind the labels, they assumed the cheap price tags alone meant the fur couldn’t be real. The shopper who sparked the investigation when she realised that the “faux fur” pom-poms on her pink stilettos were actually made from cat hair said the discovery was “really hurtful, really shocking”, because her “life is basically animals”.

But why would anyone who cares about animals want to wear fake fur? True, its fluffiness can have a certain sensual appeal, but the cruelty involved in producing the real thing is such a horrifying business, I wonder why an animal lover would want to be associated with it. Why connect yourself, even symbolically, to such barbarity?

‘Why should animals die to produce a ridiculous-looking coat?’ Greenpeace’s 1986 anti-fur advertisement. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

Commercial fur often comes from China, where it’s produced very cheaply, frequently due to ghastly conditions. The animals, who spend their whole lives in wire cages, often succumb to anxiety-induced psychosis, gnawing away at their own limbs and hurling themselves repeatedly against the cage bars.

It’s a horrific life all the way to the end. The animals are finally grabbed from their cages and bludgeoned or strangled to death – if they’re lucky. Undercover investigators from Swiss Animal Protection/EAST International found that in many cases the more unfortunate ones were still alive as they were being skinned.

A mink looks out of its open cage on a farm in China. Fur farmers there face few regulations, and there are no animal welfare laws to protect the animals. Photograph by Diego Azubel, EPA/Redux

Even after the skinning, when their hairless, bloodied bodies were tossed onto a pile, some were still alive, gasping for air and blinking. In a harrowing video, one skinned raccoon dog found the strength to lift his bloodied head and stare into the camera, as if to ask us why we have done this to him.

But it’s not just in China that horrors occur. An undercover investigation into a farm in the United States produced a video nasty of its own. Animals bred for their fur there often spend their entire lives in cages too, before being slaughtered by gassing, neck-breaking, or electrocution of the genitals.

Workers skin minks at a farm in China. In addition to being a major exporter of mink pelts and garments, China also imports a large number from Europe and North America. Photograph by Diego Azubel, EPA/Redux

It’s time we consigned this peculiar trend to the history books, allowing future generations to read with disgust and bewilderment at how badly their predecessors treated animals. There are precedents: in March Berkeley became the second city in California to ban the sale of any fur clothing, following in the footsteps of West Hollywood, which outlawed it in 2013.

But what about the fake stuff? Banning fake fur would seem an over-reaction (though it would certainly avoid any future confusion for well-meaning shoppers). More sensible than a ban might be a boycott. Wearing fake fur endorses a place for fur of any kind in the fashion industry, and given that we now know some “fake” fur is in fact real, and the product of great suffering, the vain hope that it could be separated from that cruelty in our minds has probably been extinguished.

Slaughtered minks at a farm in China are gathered before being skinned. Allegations of extreme cruelty on some Chinese fur farms forced some new regulations, but welfare advocates say inhumane treatment remains rife. Photograph by Diego Azubel, EPA/Redux

So leave fur, real or imagined, on the shelf and build your look on something other than animal cruelty. There’s nothing beautiful about pretending to be wearing an abused animal.

This article was first published by The Guardian on 12 Apr 2017.


We invite you to share your opinion whether there should be a worldwide ban on fur farming? Please vote and leave your comments at the bottom of this page.

Should there be a worldwide ban on fur farming?

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Editorial Comment: The purpose of this poll is to highlight important wildlife conservation issues and to encourage discussion on ways to stop wildlife crime. By leaving a comment and sharing this post you can help to raise awareness. Thank you for your support.

 

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Michele Jankelow

Humans want it all and they want it NOW and it is beyond belief to what ends peoples greed will go! How tragic that animals are victims of this greed! The bottom line is profit and wealth! How do these people reconcile with what they are doing to animals and their personal wealth! Do they sleep at night?

lisa goudie

Yes

Babette Lewis

Every single one of these petitions concern human torture and destruction for wild animals and domestic animals. Where are the laws protecting our wildlife? How can this continue, I would get lawyers together and throw the book at them! Sickening and perverse humans, all should be locked up, even the helpers. Disbank the USDA Wildlife service, killers all of them.

Tuija von Bonsdorff

YES of course! Please stop this cruelty!

Amparo Hilda Lopez Pujol

LA INDUSTRIA DE LAS PIELES DE ANIMALES ES EXTREMADAMENTE CRUEL E INNECESARIA,PUESTO QUE EXISTEN MUCHAS OTRAS FORMAS PARA CUBRIRNOS DEL FRIO . YA SALIMOS DE LAS CAVERNAS HACE MUCHO .
BASTA YA DE POR SUPERFICIALIDAD Y VANIDAD SEGUIR COMETIENDO CRIMENES . SOMOS CIVILIZADOS? TERMINEMOS DE DEMOSTRARLO.

Sabine Beffert

Yes yes yes I like fur only on animals

Bev Fox

Whether the slaughtered animal is wild or farmed, killing it to take its skin is still MURDER!
No-one needs to wear fur except the original owner.
Stop this barbaric practice NOW.

Monique HANNO

YES YES YEEEEEEEEEEEEES! ABSOLUTELY STARTING YESTERDAY!!!!!

Carol Bigsby

YES

jo-ann brown

yes fur farming is disgusting ………….when will people stop perpetuating crueltyy to other sentient creatures for whatever purpose!

Adelina Jaudal

yes !

Irene Cooper

SCALP THE FUR WEARERS

Nidale Shibli

Yes absolutely

Rikki Salty

World wide ban!

Cheri Merchant

Yes

Sandy Barrett George

Yes

Linda Badham

HORRIFIC BLOODY EVIL AND THERE SHOULD BE A BAN WORLD WIDE !

Helga Scholte

Upsetting and appalling. A SHAME… (and so to blame) when GREED is the “God” over everything, even over the ” barbaric fate” of painfeeling living creatures. Here we see INNOCENT animals (which have DIGNITY just as humans) being systematically “produced”, abused and barbaricly killed at the end of a horrific life in hell on earth (all for “profit”…) How disgusting ‘ugh’

Arlene Domenico

Yes

Theresa Kemp

Why does some of mankind feel it is OK to be so damn heartless and evil?

Tracy Whitcomb

YES!!!!!

Jacqueleena O

YES.ITS SO CRUEL AND I AGREE NO NEED DOR IT WHAT SO EVER.PUT A STOP TO IT NOW! STOP STOP STOP STOP STOP STOP STOP STOP STOP STOP STOP STOP STOP STOP STOP STOP STOP STOP STOP STOP STOP

Karen Lyons Kalmenson

fur belongs on whom it was born, not the the vain and frivolous, worn!

Jenny Borus

YES

Wendy South

ABSOLUTELY IT IS VILE AND CRUEL AND THERE IS NO NEED FOR IT WHATSOEVER.

DeborahMae Broad

absolutely.Now

Verna Dentrey

no one should be allowed to wear fur except the animal that was born with it!!!!!

Kate Dougherty

Abominadable. Amoral. Heinous. Stinking rotten. Their skin is not ours to take. The cruelty of deaths is Satanic.

Shawn Spidahl Rice

Yes.

Max Hanna
It is100% wrong and fur farming should be banned throughout the world – Stores should be banned from selling fur products! People who wear fur coats should be confronted and asked if they are aware that over 40 animals had to be killed to make that coat! The conditions of the poor animals are horriblel – they are kept in small cages and then beat to death when big enough to harvest their fur – Other animals are trapped and tortured – China is the worst – they slaughter the animals mercilessly – The Chinese have no conscience – they… Read more »
Leigh Lofgren

It is truly upsetting and shocking that this continues to this day and as for China, they are without a doubt, the worst of the worst, as they kill everything

Christina Gens

.. on fur full stop. You’ll get more poaching I guess if you only close the farms.

Lindsay Leclair

Yes there tortured

Anna Golanowska

Yes

Judy Keown

Yes

Annette Mathew

YES

Maggie De-silver

Yes

Sandie Colpetzer

yes

Marilyn Ashman

I WILL SIGN AND VOTE UNTIL THIS STOPS!!!

Isabella Ireland

Voted YES!

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