The dreadful cruelty of fur production is on display in video footage we are releasing today, as part of a Humane Society International investigation of 13 fur farms in China.
The graphic video shows a worker at a fur farm stabbing raccoon dogs with a double-pronged lance fitted with a high voltage battery. The shock is not administered to the brains but to random parts of the animals’ bodies, which means that instead of dying quickly, they may be paralyzed and in pain yet still conscious.
Some are dragged out by their tails and thrown on the ground while others lie in their cages, convulsing from cardiac arrest for a long time before they die.
As terrifying as these visuals are, this is the grim reality for all animals raised for their fur. Keeping wild animals in small cages and electrocuting them to death happens on fur farms around the globe, including in the United States, Europe and Asia.
HSI has documented the cruelty of fur farms through our investigations in two other countries in 2019 and 2020. We turned the spotlight on fur farms in China this time because this is the world’s largest fur producer. Fur farms in the country reared 14 million foxes, 13.5 million raccoon dogs and 11.6 million mink in 2019.
The footage investigators captured between November and December shows foxes and mink in rows of tiny, barren wire cages with wire flooring spinning and pacing constantly—a certain sign of mental decline and lack of enrichment. We also documented disturbing breaches of many of the country’s regulations for fur farms on animal housing, welfare, slaughter and epidemic control and provided evidence of it to Chinese law enforcement authorities. One fur farmer admitted that the meat from slaughtered fur animals is being sold to local restaurants where unsuspecting consumers eat it. In the video, one worker can be seen cutting the meat off a skinned animal.
The fur farms investigated also showed a shocking disregard for Chinese disease regulations during the pandemic. None had disinfecting stations at entry and exit points, and visitors were allowed to come and go without being asked to observe any COVID-19 safety precautions. This is especially disturbing given that there have been at least 422 outbreaks of the coronavirus on 289 mink fur farms in 11 countries in Europe and North America. Raccoon dogs and foxes are also capable of contracting coronaviruses.
Fortunately, there is light at the end of this tunnel. As we have been reporting, the demand for fur has been dropping steadily over the years. For instance, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 2019 was the worst year on record for U.S. fur production. Fur imports from China, for example, have been declining since 2015.
Since the coronavirus outbreak, governments have become more motivated to end this trade which, they now know, poses a very dangerous public health risk. The Netherlands, the first country to report infected mink on fur farms, has already ended all mink fur production, ahead of a 2024 deadline, and France has also announced its intentions to ban mink fur production. Denmark, Sweden and Italy have suspended mink farming for this year. And Hungary has announced a ban on farming mink, foxes, ferrets and coypu.
Designers are increasingly ending the use of fur in their lines, retailers are refusing to sell it, and consumers are saying “no” to wearing it. The world’s largest fur auction house in Denmark announced last year that it would close its doors this year for good. A 2020 poll showed that 71 percent of Americans oppose killing animals for their fur. Another poll overseas showed that 93% of people in the United Kingdom refuse to wear fur and 72% support a fur sales ban.
Fur clearly has no future, but as the investigations show, the suffering is far from over for millions of animals who are still suffering in this trade. We urge every country where fur farms exist to act swiftly to end this sordid business. With the availability of so many luxurious manmade alternatives to fur, there is no reason at all why such appalling cruelty should be allowed to continue for a moment longer.