Baby foxes, raccoon dogs and minks are being forced to live in cramped and filthy cages on fur farms in China, born to die for fashion items.
The heart wrenching footage also captured a raccoon dog cub struggling to walk on the wire mesh floor of its cage, while mink are forced to circle around in dirty cages, above piles of excrement.
Investigators also witnessed older animals exhibiting behaviours signifying psychological distress, such as repetitively pacing their tiny cages – barely bigger than their bodies.
More than 100 million animals are killed each year for their fur including mink, fox, raccoon dog, chinchilla and rabbit – three every second. They typically spend their lives in one-metre-squared battery cages and are only moved twice – for weaning and on the day they die.
Since a 2003 fur farming ban in the UK on ethical grounds, over £800 million worth of fur has been imported into Britain, HMRC figures reveal. In the last five years over £28m of it has come from China.
20 years on from the ban, the Daily Mirror and HSI/UK are urging the Government to end this double-standard by banning imports and sales of fur in the UK.
Claire Bass, senior director of campaigns and public affairs at Humane Society International/UK, said: “This latest investigation has once again highlighted the inhumane treatment animals suffer as fur fashion victims.
“The fur trade would prefer that the grim realities of fur farming were out of sight and out of mind, but as a country we owe it to these animals not to turn away, and to stop being complicit in their suffering.
“Many Britons will be horrified to find out that it is perfectly legal for fur from farms like those we investigated to be sold in Britain.
“A fur sales ban has the backing of over three quarters of the public, and should be an open goal for this Government to deliver on its ambition to be a world leader in animal welfare.”
It is not mandatory to state the country of origin so many fur items on sale in the UK carry no such details.
But a recent HSI/UK investigation found items labelled as Chinese fur on sale in Harrods and Harvey Nicolos.
This is not the first time we have exposed suffering on Chinese farms.
In 2020, we revealed horrific footage of foxes being beaten, skinned and chucked on a heap before their fur is made into fashion items.
Aerial images of the farms in China showed thousands of the animals strewn across the floor – some still alive – waiting to be carted off on the back of a lorry.
TV wildlife presenter and campaigner Chris Packham described it as “like a scene from hell” and one of the worst cases of animal cruelty he has witnessed.
A poll carried out in 2022 found that 77% of Brits say the Government should ban the importation of animal products such as fur, where the production methods are already banned in the UK.
The Daily Mirror’s and HSI/UK’s #FurFreeBritain campaign has so far gathered over 1.1 million petition signatures calling on the UK to ban fur imports and sales.
In 2021, we revealed how experts have warned how filthy fur farms packed full of sick, distressed animals are potential breeding grounds for deadly new pandemics.
Scientists say the stress of being held captive damages animals’ immune systems and increases the scale of “virus shedding”, putting us all at risk of zoonotic diseases – those spreading from to humans.
Covid-19 is thought to have jumped from a pangolin infected by bats to humans at a market in Wuhan.
A spokesperson for the British Fur Trade Association said; “No fur sold in the UK comes from China, but from certified sources that accord to strict welfare conditions that are independently measured to be among the highest of any in animal husbandry.
“The Government rejected calls for a fur ban because it recognised that it would do nothing to improve animal welfare, whilst recognising the high welfare standards already in place and that consumers should be free to make up their own minds.”
But Claire Bass hit back adding: “The claim that no fur sold in the UK comes from China is absolutely ludicrous, it’s simply untrue.
“It’s interesting that the European fur trade is now apparently willing to throw the Chinese fur trade under the bus, but the reality is that wherever in the world fur farming happens, and regardless of how glossy the fur trade’s brochures are, animals are suffering the same tormented lives in tiny cages.
“Recent fur farm investigations in Finland – the supposed jewel in the fur trade’s bloody crown – found animals with gaping wounds and missing limbs, blinded by eye infections, as well as cannibalism, suffering every bit as disturbing as our investigations reveal in China.
“The only way to stop the sale of cruel fur from China or anywhere else is for the government to ban fur imports and sales.”
After Life star Ricky Gervais, 61, said: “20 years ago, the UK became the first country to ban cruel fur farming. But now it still has blood on its hands by allowing fur imports.
“That’s millions of animals still suffering for fur fashion that’s sold here. So my message to the UK Government is simple: end this double standard and ban fur imports.”
In 2021 (the latest year figures are available for), 27,060,000 animals – foxes, minks, and raccoon dogs – were killed for fur production in China.
It is estimated 100 million animals are killed annually for the industry worldwide.
When asked if Harvey Nichols will continue to sell fur products following this investigation, a spokesman said: “As part of our ongoing review of these practices and continued sustainability initiatives, Harvey Nichols confirms that it will phase out the sale of fur or fur-trimmed products both online and in stores, to be completely fur-free by the end of 2023.”
“Whilst we undertake the phased exclusion, we continue to require any brand that uses fur to adhere to the Animal Sourcing Principles as set out by the Responsible Luxury Initiative.”
Harrods did not respond.
This article by Nada Farhoud was first published by The Mirror on 25 January 2023. Lead Image: Baby foxes, raccoon dogs and minks are being slaughtered for fashion items in China.
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