years ago this April, Jill Robinson first walked onto a bear bile farm. On that day in April 1993, Jill could have walked away, but she chose to act and do what she could. Today, you also have a choice. If everyone reading this donated just US$20, it would pay for the care of over 150 bears at our China sanctuary for a full year. Please help us celebrate 20 years of progress. Donate US$20 today (or whatever you can afford).
The international trade in fur is huge, with an estimated global value of US$15 billion in 2007. Markets for fur are expanding rapidly in China and Russia, and Hong Kong forms the largest hub for the trade.
The fur trade claims the lives of an estimated 40 million animals per year, the majority from farms, although millions of wild animals are still trapped for their fur. Many species are commonly used to supply the industry, including mink, fox, chinchillas, racoon dogs, and domestic/companion animals.
The evidence flies in the face of International Fur Trade Federation claims that fur farms are welfare friendly. Animals that would usually have large territories are commonly kept in small barren cages, without access to even basic enrichment. Naturally solitary animals such as mink are held in close proximity to their neighbours. Slaughter methods are designed to protect the valuable pelts rather than the welfare of the animals concerned, and are often barbaric, poorly regulated, and carried out by untrained workers. There is evidence that many animals are skinned alive on fur farms. Stereotypic behaviour, disease, and infanticide are common.
Many wild animals are still trapped in leghold traps, often condemned to die a prolonged agonizing death. Some will chew their own limbs off in their attempts to escape, and double traps are often used to prevent such escape, such is the callousness of the trade. The indiscriminate nature of trapping means that many non-target animals, and people, are injured and killed by traps each year, and makes nonsense of claims that no endangered species are taken. Baby seals are culled en mass in Canada and elsewhere by bludgeoning over the head, or by shooting from a distance, often resulting in animals dying over prolonged periods, drowning, or being skinned while still conscious. Governments such as that of Canada subsidise these activities to maintain them even though they are no longer profitable.
The fur trade has resulted in the extinction of several animals, including the Falkland Islands Wolf, the North American Sea Mink, and the Rufous Gazelle, and the severe depletion and endangerment of many others. In spite of industry claims to the contrary, the fur trade continues to contribute to species depletion.
The fur trade also brutally claims the lives of millions of dogs and cats each year, for fur which is often subsequently disguised as "faux fur" to circumvent international regulations. Import and labelling regulations are often woefully inadequate at preventing this trade.
Most fur is obtained form animals specifically killed for their pelts, and is not a "by-product" of the meat industry. Fur is anything but environmentally friendly, considering the energy used to produce fur products, the consequences of waste production from fur farms, the chemicals used to preserve and treat the pelts, and the dire environmental consequences of non-indigenous species that escape or are released from farms. The fur trade is a multi-billion-dollar industry, and is very far from a subsistence activity of a few indigenous people.
Animals Asia, along with many other welfare, environmental, and conservation groups, believes that the fur industry is cruel, environmentally damaging, and unnecessary. We urge people not to buy fur or fur-containing products, whatever the source.