RIGHT-tourism

Fighting the Fur Trade – China

Care for the Wild conducted two investigations into the Chinese fur industry, uncovering devastating evidence of brutality and animal suffering.

The Situation

The international trade in fur is highly lucrative, with an estimated global value of £10 billion per year. Conservative estimates suggest that each year 40 million animals are killed exclusively for their fur.

The fur industry makes its huge profits by keeping production costs down to the bare minimum. Animals are kept in appalling conditions, crammed into row after row of tiny barren cages, and left to stand on metal bars for their entire lives. Even the method of slaughter is chosen purely with profit in mind, designed only to protect the valuable pelts, without any consideration for the animal’s suffering. However, the barbaric fur industry continues to thrive, fuelled by the increasing consumer demand.

The increasing popularity of fur undoubtedly owes to the expensive propaganda campaign the international fur industry has waged over the last 10 years. Their PR campaign has been very well coordinated and funded, aimed at dispelling the moral stigma attached to wearing fur.

China is the world’s largest exporter of fur clothing and according to industry sources, the biggest fur trade production and processing base in the world.

Our Investigations

Care for the Wild teamed up with Swiss Animal Protection and EAST International to examine the welfare of animals in Chinese fur farms.  In 2005, we produced a report on our findings to help raise awareness of the animal cruelty involved in the Chinese fur farming industry. All of our reports can be downloaded from the Further Reading section at the end of this page.

Investigators uncovered unimaginable acts of systematic brutality and animal cruelty on a colossal scale. The report included evidence of severe animal welfare issues, including;

  • In all farms visited in China, animals were handled roughly and were confined to rows of inappropriate, small wire cages, which fall way short of EU regulations.
  • Signs of extreme anxiety and pathological behaviours were prominent throughout.  Other indicators of poor welfare include high cub mortality, self-mutilation and infanticide.
  • Animals were often slaughtered adjacent to wholesale markets, where farmers brought their animals for trade and large companies come to buy stocks. To get there, animals were often transported over large distances and under horrendous conditions before being slaughtered.
  • Animals were typically stunned by repeated blows to the head or swung against the ground.
  • A significant number of animals remained fully conscious during the skinning process. Even after their skin had been stripped off, breathing, heartbeat, directional body and eyelid movements were evident for 5 to 10 minutes.

Our first report on Chinese fur farming caused outrage, following international media coverage showing the shocking footage and images from the investigation. Following the revelations in our report, the international and British fur industry, was quick to distance itself from fur produced in China, claiming that hardly any of it enters UK or European markets. But according to figures from the British Fur Trade Association, its members turn over a massive five hundred million pounds a year, making Britain the biggest fur buyer in the world. Consequently, Care for the Wild conducted a second investigation, this time revealing that cheap Chinese fur, including the pelts of cats and dogs, was flooding into Britain and the EU.

Our investigation found that:

  • Chinese furs are easily and cheaply available across the UK and in London’s most popular shopping areas
  • Pelts from domestic cats and dogs are often used and exported to he UK, sometimes being mislabelled as fox fur
  • Unlabelled fur or fur labelled as coming from a different country could still be from China
  • Garments labelled as ‘fake fur’ sometimes contained real Chinese fur, typically from dog and cats
  • The rise of Internet shopping and the anonymity it affords led to a steep increase in the availability of Chinese fur online

What Happened?

Our report ‘Fun Fur’ was used to inform the the European Parliament’s decision, in June 2007, to implement a ban on the production, marketing and trade in cat and dog fur; thereby sparing many animals a lifetime of suffering.

The Chinese fur association acknowledge the findings of our reports and agreed to improve animal welfare standards in fur farms and slaughterhouses.

What Can You Do?

This cruel industry will only end when the public refuses to buy or wear fur, so please, make sure you don’t end up with skeletons in your cupboards. The single most effective way of doing this is to avoid wearing fur completely, be it labelled as new, faux or vintage. As the saying goes, it really does look better on the animal!

Further Reading

You can find out more about all of our previous campaigns on our Campaigns Materials page.