Farmed in tiny cages, clubbed to death or skinned alive - the fate of millions of Chinese animals bred for their fur.
Perhaps such retailers should watch the shocking hard evidence gathered by CWI in conjunction with Swiss Animal Protection and EAST International: undercover film obtained by investigators in late 2004 and early 2005 graphically revealed for the first time how millions of animals in typical Chinese fur farms are confined in rows of tiny, often filthy, wire cages. Housing conditions of this kind result in high cub mortality, self mutilation and pathological behaviours. The foxes and raccoon dogs are now transported under horrendous conditions to wholesale markets where they are slaughtered, skinned, sold and bought by clothing and processing companies.
In shocking sequences, animals were filmed being lifted from their cages using a 'capture pole' with a noose at the end. Helpless and wide-eyed, foxes and raccoon dogs are suspended from their necks for considerable periods of time before workers grab them by their hind legs and, using a wooden or metal club, repeatedly strike them on the head. Others are swung hard against the ground by their hind legs in an attempt to stun or immobilize them, while their cage mates, who are next in line, look on. Many are seen convulsing and trembling, unable to move away, on the ground, no doubt suffering from bone fractures, ruptured organs and internal bleeding.
Then, in perhaps the most shocking scenes of all, workers were filmed as they skin the animals - many still alive - by plunging a knife into the rear of their belly whilst the animal lies on its back or is hung by its legs from a hook. Beginning with the hind legs, workers then wrench the animal's skin from its body, until it peels off over the head. Some workers first hacked off the animal’s paws to facilitate subsequent skinning.
Workers made no attempt to ensure that animals were dead before skinning them. As a result, many remain fully conscious during the entire process and start to writhe until workers again attempt to stun or immobilize them by striking them with the handle of a knife or by standing on their necks. Even after their entire skin has been stripped off, some animals remained alive for up to ten minutes, breathing and moving their heads. © Swiss Animal Protection/East International © Swiss Animal Protection/East International.
When the film was released alongside CWI's report "Fun Fur - a report on the Chinese fur industry" in early 2005 it provoked an international outcry. The brutal footage was circulated on the Internet and broadcast on television in many countries. The Chinese government and fur producers were quick to react, first accusing investigators of having staged these nightmarish scenes, before blaming poor, un-educated farmers for isolated incidents of cruelty, unrepresentative for the industry as a whole.
Worried that such adverse publicity could damage the important economic value of fur exports, the international community was told that the situation had been resolved. The British fur industry, eager not to damage its hard fought for new hip image, was quick to distance itself from fur produced in China, claiming that hardly any of it enters UK or European markets. While China has no laws to protect captive wild animals against even the most devastating abuse, Britain banned fur farming in 1998 because of the unavoidable health and welfare problems associated with farming animals for their fur.
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