Most, if not all animal-lovers abhor the fur trade industry and wouldn’t dream of wearing a fur coat or any item of clothing with fur trim. But for many, Angora fur and faux fur offer a more humane alternative, as no animals get killed or harmed during the production process. But is this really the case?
Angora is harvested from live angora rabbits, usually by clipping the fur from the animal with shears or by hand-plucking loose fur when the rabbit moults, which is typically every four months or so. The rabbits are not killed during the process, and can continue to provide a sustainable stream of fur, which readily grows back after being trimmed or plucked.
However, with the majority of Angora fur being produced in China – a country that has a notorious reputation for animal abuse, both at home and afar – it goes without saying that animal rights are low on the agenda, if not absent completely, and it is highly unlikely that China’s 50 million plus Angora rabbits are being farmed in a humane manner.
PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) recently exposed the cruelty inflicted on Angora rabbits farmed in China after an undercover investigator produced a video showing shocking footage of screaming rabbits being plucked alive.
This process is repeated every three months for up to five years, at which point they have their throats slit and are skinned for their pelts. The suffering is not limited to rabbits that are plucked; at some facilities rabbits have their fur sheared rather than plucked, but they also undergo a terrifying and traumatic ordeal every three months. The rabbits have both there forelegs and hindlegs tightly bound and they suffer painful cuts inflicted by shears as they desperately struggle to break free.
During their five years of captivity the rabbits are kept alone in tiny, filthy wire cages devoid of bedding, with the wire floor inflicting pain to their sensitive paws. They live in appalling conditions devoid of any comforts and are unable to socialize with other rabbits.
Faux Fur Production
Faux fur may seem like an ethical alternative to fur; it is greener, producing less of a carbon footprint and no animals get slaughtered in the process. Well, that’s the theory at any rate…
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) recently exposed mislabeled faux fur products sold at several stores to be animal fur rather than fake, filing a lawsuit against retailers for misleading consumers. After conducting tests on the suspect products they revealed that faux fur contained rabbit fur in some cases, and in others, fur that originated from raccoon dogs. Raccoon dogs are an East Asian breed that resembles a raccoon but are in fact canids, which are farmed under the most horrific conditions in China, where they are often skinned alive for their fur. Undercover investigations have revealed disturbing video footage showing the torture these animals endure before being killed.
These are not isolated cases.
Furthermore, fake fur products across the world may even contain fur from domestic dogs and cats – often stolen pets – originating from China, where they are captured, housed, transported and killed in the most horrifying manner. According to PETA, “more than half the fur in the U.S. comes from China, where millions of dogs and cats are bludgeoned, hanged, bled to death, and often skinned alive for their fur. Chinese fur is often deliberately mislabeled, so if you wear any fur, there’s no way of knowing for sure whose skin you’re in.”
What Can You Do?
Obviously, avoid purchasing genuine fur products or garment with fur trim, including Angora products for a start. The Humane Society of the United States warns people to take precautions when buying faux fur products to ensure that they are in fact buying fake fur products and not inadvertently supporting the cruel and barbaric fur industry.
In their Field Guide to Telling Animal Fur from Fake Fur they provide several tips on how to assess whether fur is fake or whether it originated from a hapless animal that suffered unbelievable pain and trauma before it adorned the garment you are about to purchase.
- Part the fur and check the base of the fur to see whether it consists of animal skin, a sure sign it is animal fur. Faux fur will usually have a threaded base from which the hairs of the ‘fur’ emerge.
- If you own the garment, remove a few hairs from the garment and burn with a cigarette lighter, taking care not to set the garment, yourself, or anything nearby alight. When burnt, animal hair smells like burning human hair, while synthetic hair does not.
- Check the ends of the hairs to see if they taper; if they do they you can be assured that they come from an animal, as to date fake hairs are not manufactured with tapered ends. However, if they do not taper, they may still have come from an animal that was sheared or plucked.
By Jenny Griffin