Ban Fur Farming

Covering oneself with fur goes back as far as the Stone Age. The material then would come from wild animals caught in steel traps. Sometimes the pelts of animals hunted as food would be used, sometimes it the other way around, with animals being hunted for their pelts and then the flesh consumed as meat. We are no longer living in the Stone Age.

The irony of the situation is that nowadays people do not need furs to keep them warm, but synthetic fiber is available in stores everywhere. It is mostly a cosmetic requirement now, where people can wrap themselves in animal pelt and feel a notch higher than their peers. For this purpose, ‘Fur Farms’ have sprung up, where animals are ‘harvested’ so that they may be killed and their fur may be used as a cosmetic accessory.

Animals are bred in hellish conditions on fur farms. Even death does not come easy for animals on a fur farm. They are reared in intensively small, filthy cages for their entire lives and bludgeoned with metal rods, hanged or skinned alive for their fur. Most of these animals are dragged from their dismal, filthy cages and have their feet and tails mercilessly chopped off before their skins are ripped out from their bodies.

Billions of individual animals who are trapped in these barbaric fur farms are tormented and killed each year by blatantly cruel methods. Many animals are still alive and struggling desperately in agony while they are being skinned. There must be a way to end this tremendous suffering to animals.

Fur farming is a term used for breeding certain types of animals in captivity for their fur. On these farms, rabbits, minks, foxes and other fur- bearing animals are kept in unbearably small, wire cages in dark, filthy sheds that have no protection from extreme weather such as freezing rain, or scorching sun.

Most of the fur farms are located in Europe, some in North America, and recently China has come up in a big way into the industry. Minks, rabbits and foxes are the animals most in demand for their furs. Others include chinchilla, raccoon, sheep, and sometimes, even cats and dogs. As much as eighty percent of today’s fur comes from fur farms. The rest are caught in the wild in horrific traps.

According to available records, minks were being bred for fur as far back as the early 1860s in North America. The first of the fox farms can be dated back to 1895 in Canada. The fur trade has played an important role in the United States. The fashion for beaver hats gave rise to fur trappers, who explored large parts of North America due to the intense demand for supply of raw material.

Since the start of the latter half of the 20th Century, animal fur has faced competition from synthetic fibers, but cruel fur farms still abound all over the world, as ‘natural’ products, are now even more in demand as opposed to synthetic fur because they are perceived to be more precious, and hence more prestigious.

Of all the furs, mink is the most in demand – in fact it may even be said that mink is the main sustenance of the fur industry. Mink has been farmed in the United States for nearly 130 years now and in currently the fifth in production with Denmark, China, Netherlands and China being the other leading nations.

Minks usually breed in March and give birth in May. They are ‘harvested’ November through December. Their average litter is three to four kits. The best animals are kept for further breeding and the rest are harvested (translated into killing). Nearly twenty-six million minks are killed every year for the sole purpose of acquiring their skin.

Minks are native of North America and are semi-aquatic animals. They are inquisitive and solitary in nature and spend most of their time swimming in water. They are active animals and hence are not expected to do well in cages.

In a fur farm, the mink is typically kept in a cage, which is no more than 10 inches, by 24 inches in dimension. They do not get any water except what they are provided for drinking via a nipple system, which can also fail and freezes in the winter. They barely have space to move around let alone have any scope of activity. In frustration, the animal becomes neurotic, often moving back and forth repetitively or self-mutilating by biting their tails. Ironically, that is harmful for the farmer because of the potential damage and subsequent devaluation of the fur. However, the cost-effectiveness of cramming too many animals in too little space make up for any potential loss to the farmer.

Many of the animals die early due to shock, blood loss, stress, poor sanitation, heat or cannibalism. In a fur farm, the semi-aquatic mink will never swim in its whole life. As a result, many die due to the heat during summer. As fashion demands, the fur industry adapts.

Selective inbreeding gives rise to mutant color phases, never mind the damage it does to the animal. For instance, the Hedlund white mink, which has been created as a genetic fur farm variety, will lose its hearing at 30 days of age.

The Royal Pastel mink develops “screw neck” deformity, where the mink will twist its head in an awkward motion repeatedly.

The Blue Iris mink is born with a deficiency of natural killer cells. These deformities are rare in the wild, but prevalent in fur farm animals because they are created deliberately. On an end-note, it takes about 60 females or 35 male minks to make a mink coat.

Next in demand are fox pelts. Finland is the leader, followed by Canada. USA is also one of the major producers of fox fur. Stress induced cannibalism is so common among the foxes kept in fur farms that an estimated 20% of the foxes die prematurely due to this.

In a fur farm, the objective is to reap maximum profit. The animals are treated as raw materials, not as living being who have needs or can feel pain and agony. They are often crammed in small cages, more than one per cage to cut costs. Most animals go insane undergoing these living conditions. They also self-mutilate, bite their tails or limbs, and resort to cannibalism.

The cages are often kept in rows in giant sheds or barns, which are filthy and dark. The ammonia from the accumulated excreta of the animals – which is never cleaned up – burn their eyes and lungs. Even worse, sometimes the animals are made to be lined up outdoors, without any protections from the bone-chilling cold or sweltering heat. They are infested by parasites as well.

The animals are fed meat by-products which are deemed unfit for human consumption. Their source of drinking water is by nipple system, which freezes up during winter and may also fail because of human error, making the animals die due to thirst. If this is how animals live in fur farms, then their deaths are even more gruesome.

In order to preserve the pelts, most animals die an excruciatingly agonizing death. They are routinely electrocuted, gassed, poisoned or have their necks broken. The animals often have clamps or rods pierced through their mouths or anuses and then electrocuted. This causes animals to have a cardiac arrest while still conscious. Foxes are commonly killed this way.

Minks usually have their necks broken or poison gassed. Chinchillas, which are a small animals, are mostly killed by having their necks broken or electrocuted by having a metal clamp to the ear and the genitalia. Because of their small size, it takes up to 100 chinchillas to be killed in order to make one fur coat.

In addition, another animal that has borne the brunt of the worldwide fur trade is the familiar Raccoon that is found in extensive parts of North America. From times immemorial, their pelts have been used to clothe men, and protect them from chilling wintry weather conditions. Consequently, they were not only hunted by North Americans, but of late, the possession of coats and ‘coonskin caps’ made of their fur was considered very fashionable at different periods of time.

The fur farms for raccoons, as one may imagine, are a distasteful center of animal rights violations. The living conditions that these animals have to experience here is nothing short of a living hell. News reports in the media have also alleged that many of these animals are skinned alive. This surely cannot be the civilized way of treating creatures that cannot speak for themselves, and yet, time and again, this is proving to be the morbid truth that is pushing these powerless animals towards a future of extinction.

Vulnerable and helpless animals raised on fur farms live in intense confinement, and are tormented and killed for their fur.

Rabbits are social and intelligent creatures and can live up to 12 years old. They love to play and groom each other. But for the billions of rabbits killed for their fur and flesh, life couldn’t be any more different.

All breeds of rabbits are confined to unbearably small wire cages and kept in a battery-style system. There is hardly any space for them to move or stretch out. They routinely suffer broken bones. A sizable portion of them are found suffocated to death on arrival to the skinning area due to the way they are tightly packed in a small space.

In China, animals are mostly skinned alive while they are still conscious. The cruel farmers simply catch hold of the animal and mercilessly peel off their skin and throw the still living – and conscious – animal, half dead from agony, in a heap nearby and leave them there to die.

Furs obtained from wild fare no better. They are caught in a steel jaw trap, which kills them slowly. They suffer immensely in agony for days before they find release in death. A quick bullet is not acceptable as it may damage the pelt.

Fur farming is nothing but torture of living beings, which are curious, active and beautiful, in an institutionalized form, for the sake of fashion.

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