Dying for Fur - Inside the Chinese Fur Trade
For at least ten years, the international fur industry has waged a coordinated, well funded and slick global PR campaign aimed at dispelling the moral stigma attached to wearing fur. Mixing fur with silk, wool, suede and leather, employing new manufacturing processes such as shearing and knitting, as well as new fashionable colours, have added novelty and versatility to fur. Steadily increasing marketing of fur accessories and clothing and footwear with fur trim (e.g. collars, scarves or on hoods) has almost imperceptibly brought fur back out onto the streets.

Eighty five percent of the world ’s fur originates from farms. 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. Wild species bred for fur include red and arctic foxes, raccoon dogs, mink, and Rex Rabbits. According to Chinese fur industry sources, a growing number of international fur traders, processors and fashion designers have gradually shifted their business to China, where cheap labour and the absence of restrictive regulations make life easier and profit margins broader.

In all farms visited in China, animals were handled roughly and were confined to rows of inappropriate, small wire cages. Signs of extreme anxiety and pathological behaviours were prominent throughout. Other indicators of poor welfare include high cub mortality and infanticide.

Between November and December, foxes are sold, slaughtered, skinned and their fur is processed. Animals are often slaughtered adjacent to wholesale markets, where farmers bring their animals for trade and large companies come to buy stocks.

To get there, animals are often transported over large distances and under horrendous conditions before being slaughtered. They are stunned with repeated blows to the head or swung against the ground. Skinning begins with a knife at the rear of the belly whilst the animal is hung up-side-down by its hind legs from a hook. A significant number of animals remain fully conscious during this process. Supremely helpless, they struggle and try to fight back to the very end. Even after their skin has been stripped off breathing, heart beat, directional body and eyelid movements were evident for 5 to 10 minutes.
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