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Eviscerated mink in filthy fur farm Quebec
Credit: Jo-Anne McArthur/Djurrattsalliansen

Although in recent times many fashion designers and retailers have opted to ditch fur, an estimated 100 million animals are still farmed and killed annually for their pelts, most commonly rabbits, minks, foxes and raccoon dogs. Another 10 million wild animals are thought to be trapped and killed for their fur annually including possums, beavers, lynxes, coyotes, seals, dogs, cats, otters, bears, squirrels, badgers, wallabies, chinchillas, martens and bobcats. Fur is used for coats, clothing trims and trinkets. Fur farms are most commonly found in China, parts of Europe, USA, Russia and Canada.


Naturally, mink are solitary, semi-aquatic animals who cover a wide range of ground.  They spend the majority of their time in the water swimming and hunting. Mink will only seek out other mink to mate and will aggressively defend their territory in the wild.  In typical fur farms, these animals are confined to a small wire cage with little to no bedding and no stimulation.  They are usually crammed in with several other mink.  They are unable to exhibit their natural behaviours due to the cramped conditions and will become deeply stressed and display stereotypies such as pacing, head nodding, gnawing of bars, repetitive circling and pelt chewing. Leg wounds, eye infections, and cannibalism are common.

Mink trapped in a Fur Farm in Quebec Credit: Jo-Anne McArthur / #MakeFurHistory


Red Fox trapped in cage on a fur farm Quebec Credit: Jo-Anne McArthur / #MakeFurHistory

Foxes are active animals whose territories can cover tens of square kilometres.  They partner and form strong family bonds.  They dig large dens for breeding and will create a series of smaller dens around their territory to store food and emergency shelter.  They hunt, forage and have complex body and vocal language systems. When confined in the typical solitary wire mesh cage on intensive fur farms, foxes are unable to exhibit any of these instinctual behaviours and like mink will become distressed and engage in pacing and self-mutilation.


Most of the fur imported to Australia is rabbit fur from China. Like mink, rabbits are confined with several other animals to small bare wire cages, unable to move or display natural behaviours such as hopping, digging and grooming.  This results in painful health problems such as foot abscesses and veterbral column deformations.  Being a prey animal, rabbits are easily frightened and prone to stress.  Stereotypies such as head bobbing and circling, bar biting and being “frozen” in fear are commonplace.


Routine ways of killing farmed fur-bearing animals are anal or vaginal electrocution, drowning, clubbing, beating, poisoning, gassing and neck-breaking. Alarmingly, some are even skinned alive. This ensures no blood will destroy the quality of the pelt.

‘Olivia Munn takes on the Fur Trade’
Credit: PETA

Garments made of the more “high-end” angora rabbit wool are created from fur which is manually ripped off the skin of fully conscious animals without any pain relief.  The rabbits are tied up and stretched out to restrict their movement during this process. Recent investigations have shown rabbits screaming in agony while bleeding from open wounds, after which they are returned to their cages and subjected to the same horrific process every couple of months for their short, miserable lives. Farmers prefer this method as it is quick and yields longer hair deeming it more profitable.

The Truth Behind Angora Fur
Credit: PETA
Fox caught in a steel jaw trap
Credit: Coalition to Abolish the Fur Trade (CAFT)

Although deemed “inhumane” and banned in many countries and states of the U.S, the most common form of trapping of wild animals for fur is leg-hold trapping in which a steel-jaw violently clamps down on the animal’s leg causing severe injury and pain.  If the animal doesn’t chew his own leg off first, he is often left suffering for days at a time without access to food or water, deeming him susceptible to predatory attacks and dangerous weather conditions. The animal is then usually suffocated or clubbed to death, again to preserve the pelt.  These traps are indiscriminate and will often slowly and painfully kill other unwanted animals, who will be discarded as “waste”.

It is illegal to import dog and cat fur to Australia, however these products are often mislabeled as rabbit, fox or mink. Annually, approximately two million farmed, stray and domesticated dogs and cats suffer unimaginable cruelty and death at the hands of fur farmers- often beaten, electrocuted and skinned alive. Many of these animals are beloved pets taken from the streets.

As awareness and outrage about this horrendously cruel trade becomes more widespread, people are looking for faux alternatives. Disturbingly however, some clothing trims advertised as faux fur have been found to contain real animal hair.  Use this guide to determine whether the garment contains real animal fur, and if you are in any doubt, don’t buy it. The below table shows how to differentiate between real and fake fur (Credit: Animals Australia)

Author: Kathryn Stone
Vice President Vegan Rising

Make a difference for animals...
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