Angora Fur Trade On Its Way Out?
Since the exposure of the angora rabbit trade many retailers across the UK, Europa and America have decided to ditch the trade of angora fur. PETA (People For the Ethical Treatment of Animals) exposed the horrifying trade late last year and the start of this year all investigations detailing the most extreme abuse you could imagine. Yet still even after this trade was exposed the trade continues in many countries, least forgetting the trade in “alternative animals”.
There are many breeds of angora rabbits being that French, German, English Giant and Satin the main recognised breed’s, all breeds are considered safe and not in any threat of extinction. Bred exclusively for its long beautiful fur, the angora rabbit is one of the oldest “domestic” rabbit breeds known originating from Ankara (Angora) (Turkey). Out of the four angora rabbits there are also many individual breeds of angora rabbits too. Other breeds include Chinese, Korean, Swiss, Finnish and St Lucian. Only the four main breeds being English, German, French and Satin are formally recognised by the American Rabbit Breeders Association. Warning video below may be upsetting to some viewers.
Angora rabbits are bred mainly for their fur which sells for thousands of euros worldwide. Controversy brewed when undercover investigative animal rights and welfare organisations infiltrated farms within China, Asia exposing how angora fur was harvested. China is host to 90% of all angora fur farms where laws to protect animals are scarce. Combing, plucking and sheering whilst the rabbits shake in fear, scream in agony is common practice within these fur farms of which the purchaser on the high street is completely oblivious too. If only they knew their angora hat, jumper or garment was yanked of a rabbit screaming in agony would they still wear the product?
At only 11 microns in diameter angora wool is finer and softer than cashmere. Angora rabbits have a humorous appearance, as they oddly resemble a fur ball with a face although some species do appear just like the average domestic rabbit. Asian, American and European breeders will normally use the French, German or Giant angora rabbit of which its fur is seen as a more suitable and easy to weave material. The giant angora rabbit is the most sought after though often seen on farms in Asia these docile rabbits are put through a life of hell just to provide the consumer with a garment, hat, gloves jumper and more.
The Giant Angora is the largest of the ARBA accepted Angora breeds, having been created by Louise Walsh, of Taunton, Massachusetts to be an efficient wool-producing rabbit sustained with 16-18% alfalfa based rabbit feed and hay, and living in the standard size all wire cages used for commercial breeds. The ARBA wouldn’t allow German angoras to be shown because their body type was too similar to other breeds, so Louise Walsh made a new breed from German angoras, French lops, and Flemish giants to create a completely different body type. After several years the ARBA accepted it as a breed and it is now showable. Its coat contains three types of wool: soft under wool, awn fluff, and awn hair; the awn type wool exists only on the Giant and German Angora. This breed should have furnishings on the face and ears. Many people confuse German with Giant Angora, but they are not the same. Technically one could show a German angora as a Giant angora since they have German angoras in their pedigrees, however they are unlikely to score well due to the lack of desired body shape.
Every three months angora rabbits bred mostly in Asia (90%) endure a hellish cycle of abuse. Ripped from their tight, cramped enclosures the rabbits are strung up of which the farmers then proceed to rip the fur from the screaming shaking delicate bodies. After the fur has been harvested the angora rabbit is then returned back to its cage, naked, freezing and in shock the rabbit will sit still quivering in fear in a trance like comatose state. Death is common yet still the trade continues.
Sometimes the rabbits are sheared which (can) be as traumatic as having ones fur ripped clean out commonly known as (plucking). However some farmers will suspend the rabbits from a block of wood fixed to a beam in the fur room then proceed to pluck the fur from rabbits delicate body or tie the rabbit to a board thus ripping the fur clean out. Bleeding and shaking in shock the process is not fast. Taking on average around ten to fifteen minutes the pain inflicted is gruesome and barbaric. Just imagine yourself tied to a board having your hair pulled out from your head or pubic region. Painful? You bet it is.
After two hellish years incarcerated within a stinking hell hole fur farm 90% of the angora rabbits used within this trade die after two years from the abuse brought on by the farmer and the demand for trade from the public. Sadly within Asia there are no penalties for the abuse inflicted to these lovable fluff balls.
Only female angora rabbits are used within the fur trade as they grow much larger than the males and produce more fur too. Males bred for breeding are picked then caged for the fur trade of which those not required for (breeding) are killed automatically at birth in a more similar fashion as male chicks are killed within the egg/hatchery business although the process does not involve crushing and grinding. PETA stated that the male rabbits are considered the most (lucky) rabbits as their life and death is quick and virtually painless. However as explained chosen males are needed for breeding purposes only. Those not required are slaughtered in the most grotesque manners.
Angora rabbits are quite large in size weighing 12lbs to 5.5kg or larger their wire mesh cells are almost identical in size to that of their bodies. Two years confined to a cell no bigger than your actual body size is enough to turn any living species completely insane yet in China for example this is considered (non-abusive).
At just eight weeks old angora rabbits are plucked and sheared for their fur, then after two to five years (if the rabbits have survived) their traumatic hellish abuse they are then strung up, their throats are slit and fed back into the human food chain. Rabbits are considered very delicate and sensitive animals of which suffer more or less the same stress and loneliness feelings as we humans do. Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, The Royal Veterinary College, Hertfordshire, United Kingdom proved rabbits suffer from loneliness which has been highlighted below for your information. Picture below depicts rabbits used in the fur trade now a part of the meat trade. What a hellish life they live.
Although various welfare associations suggest rabbits housed on their own are more stressed than rabbits housed in pairs there has been little published data to substantiate this.
In an attempt to obtain objective data to examine this assertion, endogenous stress levels as indicated by faecal corticosterone levels measured by an enzyme immunoassay (EIA) were determined in two groups of rabbits – one group housed singly and the other in pairs. All rabbits were housed in a single establishment and apart from shared or unshared housing all other husbandry conditions were comparable. The study group consisted of 39 rabbits, comprising nine single females and ten single males and ten each of males and females from mixed sex pairs. The EIA was validated for rabbit faecal corticosterone by demonstrating dilutional parallelism to known corticosterone standards.
Statistical analysis was carried out on two variables, housing and sex, by a two-way ANOVA after first log transforming the data to ensure that this was normally distributed (SPSS 16.0 for Windows). Faecal corticosterone concentrations were found to be significantly higher in rabbits housed alone compared to those in pairs (p <0.001) and there was no significant difference (p=0.918) between the sexes. There was no significant relationship between sex and housing (p=0.309).
Since faecal glucocorticoids have been related to chronic stress levels in animals, these results suggest that rabbits housed alone are more stressed than those housed in pairs and that this occurs independently of sex.
The brief outlined study above clearly indicates that any rabbit housed alone suffers immense “emotional loneliness” which is more similar to feelings of home sick or loneliness that we humans suffer. Angora rabbits housed in appalling conditions in single cells one can only imagine their mental state is quite high. Furthermore the pain inflicted is another matter of concern to ourselves.
Stress in Rabbits;
Rabbits suffer from untold immense stress if not cared for correctly or put through a life of grotesque abuse. Stress in the fur trade as explained kills ninety per-cent of all rabbits. Stress is not the only factor though that can lead to a rabbits death. Heat stress is also commonly known to kill many rabbits and whilst much of the breeding is actually undertaken in Asia environmental changes within Asian breeding countries can account for a high number of deaths. Loud noises, irrational human behaviour, confusion or inconsistent mishandling can lead to the deaths of many angora fur farm rabbits, unusual odours too which such as high levels of ammonia common on rabbit fur farms can most certainly being on rapid death too. Inappropriate or excessive feeding, humans ‘anthropomorphizing‘ animal behaviour thus causing behaviour problems or being (crowded) can bring on stress levels to such a high level that rabbits subsequently perish. All the above stresses are commonly seen within (all fur farms) however the most commonly viewed is that of blood loss, mishandling during the fur harvest predominantly on angora farms, and emotional induced stress that eventually sends the rabbit over the top thus leading to cardiac arrest.
The killing of rabbits for their fur is the fastest growing part of the global fur trade, yet little is known about it. 50 million animals are slaughtered worldwide each year for their fur but this figure does not even include rabbits as accurate figures are hard to come by. Around the world most systems of animal factory farming – such as battery hen cages, foie gras production, mink fur farming – have been the subject of detailed scientific studies, campaigns by animal rights groups and even government bans. Meanwhile, the factory farming of rabbits for their fur and flesh has received little attention. Until now.
Rabbits are bred in bare wire cages, creating both physical and behavioural problems. The mesh flooring of the cages causes damage to the feet of the rabbit and this can result in sore hocks (ulcerative pododermatitis), leading to infections and abscesses. Research carried out in 2004 found that up to 15% of does (female rabbits) suffered from sore hocks and up to 40% had paw injuries that were sufficiently serious for them to show signs of discomfort. As explained does are exclusively farmed for their fur and meat whilst the vast majority of male rabbits (bucks or jacks) are bred to continue the breeding of female rabbits thus then slaughtered soon after, or are bred just for their meat.
The stench of ammonia from the urine soaked floors, which tends to overpower any other odour in a commercial rabbit unit, can irritate the eyes of the rabbits and lead to painful infections.
The housing of the rabbits, both separately and as a group, causes problems. Since rabbits are social animals, being separated from another rabbit causes immense stress and this social deprivation leads to stereotyped behaviour such as gnawing on cage bars (a common behaviour exhibited by caged animals) and over-grooming (repetitively plucking one’s own fur is a form of self-mutilation). Even group housing of adolescent sibling rabbits is no better. The overcrowding of the cages leads to increased aggression and fighting. Fur-plucking and ear-biting are behavioural manifestations attributed to overcrowding.
Bare cages means boredom, which again leads to stereotyped behaviour. Most research carried out on whether rabbits benefit from cage enrichment proved that any kind of enrichment, such as gnawing sticks or even just hay, was a positive step in reducing boredom, cage gnawing and fighting. Even though this is widely accepted, none of the farms visited by activists had any enrichment.
There is a consensus within the rabbit farming industry that the increased use of rabbit fur is due to the cheap production which allows them to experiment freely with processes such as dying that would be less likely with more expensive fur. Being able to experiment with rabbit furs has meant that designers feel more confident to do this now with other furs.
High quality rabbit fur comes from those animals bred primarily for their fur. Although cheaper fur products may come from those rabbits bred primarily for their meat, this is by no means a by-product. The additional profits from the sale of the pelt is the only thing keeping some farms in business.
Whether a rabbit killed for her flesh also has her fur used to trim a jacket or make a pair of gloves is irrelevant. Anyone consuming rabbit meat is still funding the barbaric and unnecessary caging, deprivation and slaughter of animals.
The rabbit mother who has her babies taken away from her at four weeks is not concerned about why all this happens to her and her young, only that it does happen. She is not concerned about whether her babies are turned into a pair of gloves or somebody’s dinner; she is just concerned that her babies are taken away from her and that she is imprisoned in a cage that doesn’t allow her to do all that comes naturally to a rabbit – to feel the sun on her back, to run and hop.
Since PETA Asia exposed the gruesome angora fur trade many retailers within the United Kingdom, Europa, America and Canada have expressed their outrage and concern with regards to the manner in which the angora rabbit is abused and then slaughtered thus ditching the abuse garments once and for all. However as explained many retailers, fashion designers and clothing manufactures still to this day continue the demand thus seeing more rabbits bred for this barbaric and senseless bloody trade. Highlighted below are some retailers and manufactures that continue to sell and produce angora fur despite communications sent to them with regards to this trade they have ignored our own advice, concerns raised with regards to the manner in which angora rabbits are reared and slaughtered to the pain inflicted upon the does and bucks.
Retailers and manufacturers still active in the angora fur trade;
Zhongshan still continues to peddle angora fur products mainly sweaters and gloves to trims and garments. My Theresa a very well known German clothing retailer online and off continue the trade in angora fur despite being informed by us the heinous abuse angora rabbits have to endure before death. Shop Style an online retailing advertising site continues to peddle garments despite reams of evidence pointing to the abuse angora rabbits endure. Even with such intense controversy and facts surrounding the angora fur trade Browns of London still continue to sell and produce angora clothing. Despite much anger regarding sales of illegal wildlife products Ebay continues to allow cruelty to be sold online much of which can be traced back to the United States. Kangol one of the worlds leading clothing and foot ware producers continue to sell online and throughout their UK and US stores Furgora (items with angora fur) entwined within them. Kangol have still failed to acknowledge our concerns. Manufacturers within Asia mainly India and China continue trading angora by the ship load despite being informed of the abusive regime angora rabbits are put thorough.
Trade prices plummet after exposure hits the headlines;
Many leading brand names, stockists and suppliers still continue to sell an array of angora products. However since the start of 2014 trade in angora has plummeted quite significantly.
The price of angora has dived as shoppers and stores continue to ditch the wool over the way in which the wool is farmed. Topshop became the latest big name retailer to ban it after the Mirror published footage of rabbits being “live plucked” in China to supply the clothing trade.
Reports from Beijing claim the price of angora has plummeted from £26 per 500g to £15 as shops stocking it faced an angry consumer backlash. Charity People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said suppliers may now stop producing angora altogether.
Mimi Bekhechi said: “The rapid fall in the demand for angora and its plummeting price is a testament to the value that British consumers place on ethical fashion. “Shoppers now associate products made from angora with the images of rabbits having the hair violently ripped from their sensitive skin as they scream in agony.
“Any retailers still buying angora wool should take heed and join the growing list of responsible retailers that have said no to this cruelty.
“Otherwise, they should be prepared to lose customers to their more ethical competitors.”
C&A and Oasis also announced an angora ban. M&S, H&M and Next are among a host of stores that have axed it. Gap, Old Navy and New Look have also joined the list of responsible retailers saying no to angora wool. Others, such as Zara, only suspended orders indefinitely.
Spanish retail group Inditex, owner of the Zara fashion brand have also since 2013 ditched angora fur of which many more retailers are following suite. International Animal Rescue Foundation Asia are somewhat concerned that whilst the trade is slowly dissolving will traders and manufacturers use an alternative species of animal or just go completely fur free?
For now based on market evidence and surveys from third parties we believe the angora fur trade within the European Union, Great Britain and America is slowly diminishing of which its highly unlikely we’ll ever see an increase in such practices. However angora is a luxury fur wanted and craved for by millions of people worldwide. Whilst the angora fur trade is in some form of economical turmoil other barbaric fur trades just as bad are thriving in the wake of the decreased angora trade.
In the wake of the angora fur trade exposure we must remember that some fifty million animals a year (estimate) are used and abused in the fur trade just to supply the consumer with a fur trim, jacket, a novelty hat or some other blood stained garment. Please note this number does NOT include (rabbits) of which the number could be much higher.
Each Year, approximately 50 million animals raised on fur farms around the world, which account for the majority of the world’s fur production, will be killed for their pelts. This number does not include rabbits as accurate figures on the number of rabbits slaughtered annually are hard to come by, but it is estimated that yearly more than a billion rabbits are killed for their pelts. In France alone, 70 million rabbits are killed every year for their fur. In 2009, there were approximately 300 fur farms in the United States. Wisconsin has the most farms (71), followed by Utah (65), Oregon, Minnesota, and Idaho. In 2011 over 3 million mink were killed for their pelts in the U.S, all in the name of fashion. In Wisconsin, farmers killed and skinned 1,050,580 mink, while Utah murdered 698,960, up 9% from 2010. FACT.
Sheering can be just as traumatic to angora rabbits too. Here in the video below depicts how Chinese fur farm workers sheer the rabbits fur off. Notice how calm the rabbits are, much of the time this is shock. Many rabbits endure a range of injuries from sheering that results in massive loss of blood to death too.
Mink and foxes are naturally wild animals and do not adapt to life in captivity. Wild mink instinctively range a territory of approximately 741 acres in size. In contrast, ranch-raised mink are confined to a 12″ by 18″ cage. This type of intensive confinement can result in self-mutilation, cannibalism, and high-level stress that weakens the immune system and makes animals more susceptible to disease.
Approximately 30% of mink herds raised on Utah fur farms carry Aleutian disease (AD). Currently there is no treatment, vaccine or cure for this highly infectious disease, resulting in the mortality of about 20% of the herd annually.
Another risk to life in captivity includes farmers selectively cross-breeding mink with naturally-occurring mutations, which results in fur colours never seen in nature. This has led to genetic defects resulting in deaf white mink and pastel mink with nervous disorders.
Farmed foxes are raised in small outdoor cages, exposed to the harsh elements of winter and summer. Many foxes develop psychotic behaviour, literally bouncing off the walls of their cages as they pace furiously back and forth. Many develop foot problems from standing on wire for months on end. In the end, they are electrocuted through the anus in order to preserve the fur.
Mink, which in the wild are very active animals, are raised in tiny cages, each about the length of the animal’s own body. The typical mink farm is comprised of units, each with dozens of rows of individual cages with open sides that expose the animals to harsh weather. Conditions are deplorable and filthy. Farmed mink are killed by gassing, violent neck breaking or poisoning; all slow gruelling deaths. Approximately 10% of animals die every year due to stress and illness.
The fur, pelt and skin trade is gruesome and barbarically unjust. Trade will continue to increase as retailers advertise more cheaper, finer and colourful furs on the backs of super models of which the majority of consumers internationally and locally look up too. Whilst we are all tackling the main manufacturers and farms we must not forget those that flaunt blood stained abuse on the cat walks, on our television’s, radios, the internet and within magazine articles.
Back in the late 1990’s many super models such as that of Naomi Campbell worked with charities such as PETA clearly denouncing the fur trade as repulsive and not for their backs. Unfortunately many of those models, men, women and teenagers have since returned back to the trade highlighting it as a cool thing to wear. Children today look up to models and whilst these high profile individuals state “abuse is ok” our children will demand it too.
You yourself can wage your anti fur campaign by simply lobbying your countries model industry that actively promote this bloody disgust asking them to go fur free. For more information on how you can help please contact us below.
The angora fur trade is on its way out, retailers are standing firm and these are the main people that we must tackle. Please take action by looking up retailers that sell angora fur and sites that promote it demanding politely they ban remove and cease this despicable trade now.
Thank you for reading and please take ten minutes of your time to sign the petitions below.
East Asia Director Saline Wakid Saudi Arabia.