Call to boycott 'luxury' consumer item after covert investigation

·News and Video Producer
·3-min read

WARNING - GRAPHIC CONTENT: Horrifying footage shot inside Chinese fur farms gives an insight into the living conditions of animals slaughtered for luxury clothing.

The undercover vision released this week by Humane Society International (HSI), was shot inside 13 farms between November and December 2020,

Following the release of the video, which shows rows of foxes and racoon dogs lined up in battery hen style cages, animal welfare campaigners in Australia and the UK have urged consumers to stop buying fur.

Animal welfare campaigners have urged consumers not to buy fur. Source: HSI
Animal welfare campaigners have urged consumers not to buy fur. Source: HSI

Investigators said they witnessed animals “repetitively spinning and pacing” due to a lack of nourishment and saw the bleeding bodies of skinned animals piled high on a concrete floor nearby.

In most instances the carcasses are discarded, but one fur farmer admitted to selling the meat to local restaurants where it was later served to unsuspecting customers, according to HSI.

The team reported a series of breaches of China’s fur farming regulations on animal housing and noted on one farm racoon dogs were “ineptly” electrocuted, leaving them paralysed but not immediately dead.

On several farms, investigators said they saw animals having their bodies electrocuted with a lance attached to a high voltage battery, a process which HSI's veterinary adviser Professor Alastair MacMillan described as "chaotic".

"They are highly likely to have experienced several minutes of extreme physical pain and suffering, like heart attack symptoms," he said.

"Instead of instant death, they are likely to have been immobilised by the electric shocks but remain conscious and feel the intense pain of electrocution.”

Origin of fur imported into Australia difficult to trace

China is home to the largest fur industry in the world, raising 14 million foxes, 13.5 million raccoon dogs and 11.6 million mink for their skins in 2019.

Some products sold as faux fur were actually animal fur, an investigation by Four Paws International found. Source: Getty
Some products sold as faux fur were actually animal fur, an investigation by Four Paws International found. Source: Getty

Australia imports millions of dollars worth of fur each year, however tracing the origin of each fur trimmed hood, or where an accessory comes from, is difficult for researchers.

In fact an investigation conducted in 2019 by Four Paws Australia and Animal Justice Party using DNA testing found that some faux fur being sold in Melbourne was actually real fur.

Animals were found to be living inside small wire cages before being slaughtered for their fur. Source: HSI
Animals were found to be living inside small wire cages before being slaughtered for their fur. Source: HSI

Elise Burgess from animal welfare charity Four Paws Australia said labelling laws in Australia are insufficient.

"Traceability of fur items and identifying the source of fur on a garment is extremely difficult to achieve," she said.

"According to Australian government customs data over the past decade, tens of thousands of fur products are imported into Australia every year.

"These imports include whole fur skins but also fur garments or accessories, such as a fur trim on a coat."

Animal welfare groups have criticised the traceability of fur products imported into Australia. Source: HSI
Animal welfare groups have criticised the traceability of fur products imported into Australia. Source: HSI

Three animals killed for fur every second

Georgie Dolphin from HSI Australia, said that across the world approximately three animals are killed for their fur every second, and urged consumers to avoid fur products.

“Seeing the horrors revealed by our latest investigation demonstrates once again that this obscene cruelty will continue as long as there is a demand for these products,” she said.

“As more consumers, retailers and brands make a stand and simply avoid buying any fur products, we will see an end to this abhorrent industry.”

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Department of Agriculture have been contacted for comment.

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