Every day, we are making groundbreaking advances in our fight against fur. Major fashion houses and retailers, from Gucci to Burlington, have gone fur-free and just last weekend, California became the first U.S. state to ban fur sales. But today, in a sad reminder of the fact that the battle against fur is far from over, we are releasing video footage from our latest undercover investigation of fur farms in Finland, documenting the terrible suffering millions of animals continue to endure for this completely unnecessary commodity.
The footage was captured by investigators from the Humane Society International/United Kingdom and the Finnish animal protection group Oikeutta Eläimille, who visited 13 farms over a course of seven months between April and October this year. It shows hundreds of foxes and mink suffering in small, barren and filthy battery cages. There are tiny fox cubs struggling to walk across wire floors of their cages, their tiny feet constantly slipping through the holes. There are animals with eye infections and gaping wounds, including a mink with a large, bloody hole in the head. Some animals lie dead in the cages and others eat them or walk over them.
As Claire Bass, executive director of HSI/UK, who participated in the investigation, described it, “These poor young animals have zero quality of life, they exist only as vessels for their fur, as broken and tormented souls.”
The animals’ lives are miserably short – most will be electrocuted when they are just eight months old so they can be skinned for their fur. Although wild animals, they will never know what it is like to experience a single day out of the terrible confinement of those cages. It is a relentless cycle of deprivation, suffering and death, with no escape for those trapped in it.
It is hard for any animal lover to stomach such cruelty, and this has been a difficult process for Claire and others involved in this investigation. But we did this because we want to shine a light on the cruelty of fur and especially Finland’s fur farms, which produce and export large quantities of fur each year, including to the United States and the United Kingdom.
Finland is in fact the largest producer of fox fur in Europe. Each year, 2.5 million foxes are raised on the approximately 800 fur farms in this country – and killed – for the global fur trade. The only other country that farms more foxes for fur is China.
Our investigation also hopes to correct a double standard that now exists in the United Kingdom with regards to fur: while the country banned fur farming in 2000 on ethical grounds, it has allowed the imports of fur from overseas to continue. Animal fur is still sold in British stores, and since the ban, the country has imported more than $1 billion worth of fur from other countries, including nearly $18 million worth of fur from Finland.
The video has grabbed the attention of some powerful voices in the country, and led to several members of parliament in the U.K. to issue strong statements calling on the government to take swift action to ban the sale of animal fur. Next month, we will screen the footage at the European Parliament, followed by a roundtable debate on animal welfare problems associated with fur farming. Participants will include Fur Europe and the European Commission. Our #FurFree Britain campaign has also gathered more than half a million signatures from animal lovers in support of a U.K. fur sales ban, and it is supported by a host of celebrities, including Stella McCartney, Dame Judi Dench, Andy Murray, Paloma Faith and Ricky Gervais, who have been amplifying our message against fur among their followers.
There is no reason for anyone to wear fur: innovative materials that simulate the look and feel of fur are easily available. And if anyone needs more proof that fur is out of fashion, they only have to look at the avalanche of fur-free announcements in recent years, including Prada, Armani, Gucci, Ralph Lauren, Stella McCartney, Michael Kors, Burberry and many more. InStyle last year committed to go fur-free, signaling to consumers that this cruelty no longer belongs in high-fashion magazines.
Lawmakers globally are also increasingly legislating against fur, and since the U.K.’s fur production ban, more than a dozen European countries, including Austria, the Czech Republic, Norway and the Netherlands have passed similar laws. Earlier today the Slovakian National Council approved a ban on fur farming, committing to close the last of its mink and rabbit fur farms by 2025. Ireland is in the process of passing a ban on fur production, and a draft bill has been introduced in Bulgaria.
Here in the United States, Hawaii and New York have introduced measures similar to the fur sales ban in California.
Fur has long outlived its glamour and today, many see this industry, which kills 100 million animals each year, for exactly what it is: an outmoded enterprise built on terrible cruelty and the pain and torment of innocent animals. Our latest investigation offers more proof why fur needs to be relegated to history, so no animal ever again has to suffer the misery of living, and dying, on a fur farm.