20 October 2022
World Animal Day was celebrated on 4 October, a day to reflect on the incredible animal kingdom and all of the unique species we share our planet with. Mink, foxes and chinchillas, species typically found on fur farms in Europe, are inherently wild animals that have fascinating lives in their natural habitats.
This month, we are delving deeper into how these species live in the wild, and how their natural instincts are stifled on fur farms.
A dog’s life for foxes
Red foxes mainly live in pairs or in family groups of up to ten adults and pups, digging dens with many tunnels. Their Arctic cousins roam for dozens of kilometres. But on fur farms, both species are condemned to solitary confinement in wire-mesh battery cages measuring 0.8-1.2m2.
Mink are restricted to even smaller cages, whereas in the wild they climb and jump between trees across a territory of up to 3km2 a day – that is when they’re not diving to depths of up to six metres and swimming underwater for over thirty.
Even the humble chinchilla can jump up to four times the 50cm height of the cages where they are imprisoned on farms. Used to living in colonies of over 100 yet forming breeding pairs, they find themselves constrained to small groups.
The failure to satisfy the most essential needs for the animals’ physical and mental wellbeing leads to distressed behaviour, such as pacing and circling, fur-chewing and tail-biting. Self-inflicted injuries, infected wounds, missing limbs and even cannibalism are recurrent on fur farms, as are high levels of reproductive failure and infant mortality.
Being wild animals, they are naturally fearful of humans. When heavy gloves do not provide adequate protection, handlers resort to metal neck or body tongs, and even traps placed in the cage.
No animal fares well on fur farms
The WelFur programme claims to assess animal welfare on fur farms in Europe. But as its protocols were developed to apply to housing in cages, this means the results of their studies only tell us that all fur farms are basically the same, not that the animals live in adequate conditions.
Animal welfare can only be looked at properly through the prism of the Five Domains, which assesses the balance between positive and negative experiences and feelings – a paradigm shift from the previous Five Freedoms model focused on the elimination of negative experiences. Using this animal-centric approach, fur farming is clearly an utterly unacceptable cruelty. It needs to be stopped.
If you agree that no animals should be punished for having fur, but that instead keeping animals on farms to be killed for their fur should be illegal, don’t hesitate before signing our Fur Free Europe European Citizens’ Initiative to ban fur farms and farmed fur products on the European market.
“Fur Free Europe”, our latest report, goes into more detail about the ethological needs of species farmed for their fur, and how the conditions these wild animals are subjected to make it impossible for their behavioural needs to be met.