Horrifying truth of fur industry revealed in undercover investigation

Horrifying truth of fur industry revealed in footage from largest ever undercover investigation involving dozens of farms where animals engaged in cannibalism, had limbs gnawed off and were left with maggot-infested wounds

  • The harrowing material shows mink, foxes and raccoon dogs in grim conditions

The horrifying truth of the fur industry has been revealed in footage from the largest ever undercover investigation on European fur farms.

The chilling exposé titled ‘This is Fur Farming in the EU’ lays bare the grim reality of fur factory farming across six EU nations.

The harrowing material, captured by independent animal rights investigators in more than 100 farm visits, shows animals including mink, foxes and raccoon dogs in disturbing conditions.

Wounded animals can be seen battling to survive in cages coated in faeces, with some infested with maggots or missing patches of fur, eyes and limbs.

Images also show dogs involved in cannibalistic acts and bodies piled up in containers.

An injured white mink. The chilling exposé titled ‘This is Fur Farming in the EU’ lays bare the grim reality of fur factory farming across six EU nations

Wounded animals can be seen battling to survive in cages. The harrowing material was captured by independent animal rights investigators in more than 100 farm visits

The footage was released exclusively to animal protection groups Oikeutta eläimille and Humane Society International. 

Kristo Muurimaa, from Oikeutta eläimille, said: ‘EU leaders must open their eyes to the horrifying suffering of animals on fur farms. There is no humane way to produce fur, so for as long as fur farming practices continue, more shocking images like this will inevitably emerge. It’s time to end this cruel industry for good.’

Animal welfare concerns from the investigation included cannibalism among mink, who are naturally solitary animals; injured and deceased animals locked in cages alongside other animals; animals with visible bloody injuries, with some missing limbs, tails, or ears; serious eye infections; and disturbing instances of self-mutilation.

The investigation took place across farms in Finland, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Spain, and Denmark.

Across all of the farms, animals were found housed in small, barren and unsanitary cages in which incidences of cannibalism were frequently documented and injured, dead and dying animals were discovered alongside their cage mates. 

The creatures shown in the footage are kept in disturbing conditions

A white mink with part of its face missing

Piles of bodies inside a container

A white mink missing an eye

Video shows animals missing large patches of fur

An investigator at one of the farms covered

A wounded white mink

A dog that is missing an eye

A white mink with its nose missing

A savagedwhite mink

A white mink that is missing a claw

The extent of animal suffering and welfare violations of EU Directive 98/58/EC, concerning the protection of animals kept for farming purposes, was consistent across all countries and farms, according to Humane Society International.

Dr Joanna Swabe, senior director of public affairs at Humane Society International/Europe, said: ‘This shocking investigation shows that the EU’s fur farms expose animals to unspeakable suffering and must be banned. 

‘This damning evidence shows that no matter which EU country you look at, animals on fur farms are being subjected to misery that our EU leaders should be ashamed of. 

‘The European Commission has a clear opportunity to end this appalling industry and we urge it to do so swiftly and decisively by delivering a proposal to ban fur farming in the EU.’

It comes as the European Commission is considering its response to a 1.5 million signature European Citizens’ Initiative petition calling for an EU-wide ban on fur farming.

Twenty European countries, including 15 Member States, have already introduced bans. However, an estimated 10 million fur-bearing animals are still bred for fur fashion every year across Europe, according to Humane Society International.

Around 100 million animals a year are used for fur globally, with around 10 million mink, foxes and raccoon dogs reared and killed on fur farms across Europe alone in 2021. 

Twenty European countries have banned fur farming. 

Minks kept under cramped conditions at one of the farms

A line of cages at one of the farms

A white mink with facial deformity

An injured white mink

An injured white mink

A dead white mink inside a cage

A dead animal inside one of the cages 

An injured white mink

Two further countries – Switzerland and Germany – have implemented strict regulations which have effectively ended fur farming and three other countries – Denmark, Sweden and Hungary – have imposed measures that have ended the fur farming of certain species.

Most of the world’s leading designers have introduced fur-free policies including all of Kering’s six fashion brands – Saint Laurent, Brioni, Gucci, Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga and Bottega Veneta – as well as names including Valentino, Prada, Armani, Versace, Dolce & Gabbana, Michael Kors, Jimmy Choo, DKNY, Burberry and Chanel.

Mink on more than 480 mink fur farms across 13 countries have been found infected with COVID-19, and the potential for zoonotic disease spread on fur farms has been acknowledged by the World Health Organisation.

In October 2022, an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (H5N1) on a mink fur farm in Spain led influential virologists to call it ‘a warning bell’ for the practice to be ended immediately. 

In recent months, the Finnish authorities have ordered the killing of almost 300,000 foxes, mink and raccoon dogs due to public health concerns following outbreaks of the virus on more than 30 fur farms in the country.

Leading virologists have recently warned of the public health threat posed by fur farming and called on governments to ‘consider the mounting evidence suggesting fur farming be eliminated in the interest of pandemic preparedness’.

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