Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Undercover in the most wretched of places

Posted: 5 August 2010. Updated: 5 August 2010


World’s fur trade exposed

Over seven months, 30 fur farms, seven hours of footage and one and a half thousand photographs, ADI investigators recorded the heart-rending suffering inflicted on animals for the most trivial of motives – for fashion.

In the past decade, the appetite for fur has bloated in the UK, hitting a startling 169% growth. With misery out of sight and out of mind, fur has made a comeback, in the guise of coats, hats, and hood trims. It seems that in the time since fur farming was banned across the UK in 2001, the fur and fashion industry has successfully airbrushed away the reality of the horrific suffering of their animals… until now.

ADI’s undercover investigation into Finnish fur farms has exposed the horrors that foxes and mink used for their fur are subjected to day in and day out. The appalling conditions of the barren cages – unclean, rusty and often broken – are only matched by the animals’ crippling state of health.

Foxes were filmed with obvious signs of untreated infection or disease in animals’ eyes, noses and ears – clearly demonstrating a complete indifference on the parts of those meant to be caring for the animals. There were open wounds, loss of tails, and more serious illnesses such as malformed limbs, a result of a life lived in unforgiving wire mesh. Some foxes had visible gum masses, sometimes entirely engulfing the teeth – a disease which causes severe pain and distress. Their water bowls were often empty, unclean and broken, and many of the foxes displayed severe behavioural abnormalities, indicative of real psychological damage.

It is clear that for the companies producing fur, the welfare of the animals they use is not a priority. It is the end product they are concerned with, the fur to line jackets and hats that will make them money. If their animals suffer in the making, it is of little interest to them.

Even if the conditions in these farms were not as terrible as they are, the psychological damage which so many of the animals recorded display would still be clearly pronounced. Fox and mink, the most widely used species of animals farmed for fur, are wild animals: they retain all of their wild instincts and needs. They are shy and fearful of humans and other animals, and in an intensive farming environment they will always suffer mentally and emotionally.

Mink are territorial and would naturally spend much of their time in water. On these farms, however, they do not have any access to water. Instead, they spend their lives in cages, unable to express either their swimming or foraging behaviour.

Foxes, being naturally secretive and shy animals, would in the wild live below the ground in dens. However, on farms these wild animals spend their lives exposed to humans and other animals, and with minimum or no enrichment.

The simple fact is that foxes and mink would suffer in any farming environment. But what our investigation reveals, however, is that Finnish fur farms – the very same farms which supply 40% of the fur sold on UK high streets – are not only unnatural environments: they house some of the most terrible and heartbreaking scenes of suffering ever uncovered by an ADI investigation.

A Finnish fur farm is indeed an intolerably cruel place for animals. In the wild, foxes live up to 15 years, and mink live up to 10 years - but the lifespan of mink and fox bred for fur is a mere eight months. It takes 15-20 foxes or 60-80 mink to make just one fur coat, and four million cubs are killed each year for pelts. Babies born without the prerequisite pelt quality are killed immediately.

ADI’s investigation has uncovered the shocking reality behind claims by the fashion industry that animals are raised humanely for fur, and has shown that industry accreditation schemes for farms are meaningless. The video and accompanying report, Bloody Harvest – the real cost of fur, are being launched across Europe as part of ADI’s Fur Stop campaign to draw attention to the stark reality of fur farming in Europe.

You can watch the video and download the report from ADI’s campaign website, which will be tracking the campaign as it continues to receive backing from celebrities and political figures alike.

© Animal Defenders International 2019