Largest-Ever Undercover Investigation Into EU Fur Farms Expose Horrific Conditions As A Ban Is Contemplated

Photos by: Oikeutta eläimille, Otwarte Klatki/ Andrew Skowron, Tu Abrigo Su Vida and anonymous investigators

In a chilling exposé titled “This is Fur Farming in the EU,” the largest-ever single undercover investigation on European fur farms has laid bare the grim reality of factory farming for fur across six EU nations. The harrowing material, captured by independent animal rights investigators in more than 100 farm visits during the summer and autumn of 2023, shows mink, foxes, and raccoon dogs in horrifying conditions.

The investigators, coordinated by Kristo Muurimaa of Finnish animal rights group Oikeutta eläimille, shared their graphic findings exclusively with global animal protection group Humane Society International (HSI), to expose the heartbreaking reality of fur farming at a time when EU leaders are being urged to end the cruel industry for good. The European Commission is considering its response to a 1.5 million signature European Citizens’ Initiative petition calling for an EU-wide ban on fur farming. Twenty European countries, including 15 Member States, have already introduced bans, however, an estimated 10 million fur-bearing animals are still bred for fur fashion every year across Europe.

The investigation spanned several countries, including: Finland, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Spain, and Denmark. Animals were found housed in small, barren and unsanitary cages in which incidences of cannibalism were frequently documented. Injured, dead and dying animals were discovered alongside their cage mates. The extent of animal suffering and welfare violations of EU Directive 98/58/EC concerning the protection of animals kept for farming purposes, was consistent across all countries and farms.

Documented animal welfare concerns include:

  • Rampant cannibalism among mink, who are naturally solitary animals

  • Injured and deceased animals locked in cages alongside other animals

  • Animals with visible bloody injuries, with some missing limbs, tails, or ears

  • Serious eye infections

  • Infested wounds crawling with maggots

  • Disturbing instances of self-mutilation

“EU leaders must open their eyes to the horrifying suffering of animals on fur farms. There is no humane way to produce fur. As long as fur farming practices continue, more shocking images like these will inevitably emerge. It’s time to end this cruel industry for good,” said Kristo Muurimaa, Oikeutta eläimille.

“This shocking investigation shows that the EU’s fur farms expose animals to unspeakable suffering and must be banned,” said Dr. Joanna Swabe, senior director of public affairs at HSI/Europe. “This damning evidence shows that no matter which EU country you look at, animals on fur farms are being subjected to misery that our EU leaders should be ashamed of. The European Commission has a clear opportunity to end this appalling industry and we urge it to do so swiftly and decisively by delivering a proposal to ban fur farming in the EU.”

Investigators in all six countries conducted their data gathering while observing strict biosecurity precautions.

  • Around 100 million animals per year are used for fur globally, with around 10 million mink, foxes, and raccoon dogs reared and killed on fur farms across Europe alone in 2021

  • Twenty European countries have banned fur farming, including the 15 Member States of Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Slovenia, and five other European nations of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Norway, the United Kingdom, North Macedonia, and Serbia. Switzerland and Germany have implemented strict regulations which have effectively ended fur farming. Denmark, Sweden, and Hungary have imposed measures that have ended the fur farming of certain species.

  • Most of the world’s leading designers have introduced fur-free policies, including Kering’s six fashion brands—Saint Laurent, Brioni, Gucci, Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, and Bottega Veneta. Fashion designers Valentino, Prada, Armani, Versace, Dolce & Gabbana, Michael Kors, Jimmy Choo, DKNY, Burberry, and Chanel have also joined the fur-free movement.

  • Mink on more than 480 fur farms across 13 countries have been found infected with COVID-19, and the potential for zoonotic disease to spread on fur farms has been acknowledged by the World Health Organization. In October 2022, an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (H5N1) on a mink fur farm in Spain led influential virologists to call it “a warning bell” for the practice to be ended immediately. In recent months, the Finnish authorities have ordered the killing of almost 300,000 foxes, mink, and raccoon dogs due to public health concerns following outbreaks of the virus on more than 30 fur farms in the country. Leading virologists have recently warned of the public health threat posed by fur farming and called on governments to “consider the mounting evidence, suggesting that fur farming be eliminated in the interest of pandemic preparedness”.

  • Peer-reviewed research commissioned by HSI shows that the carbon footprint of 1kg of mink fur (309.91 kg CO2-eq) is 31 times higher than cotton, 26 times higher than acrylic, and 25 times higher than polyester. Raccoon dog fur and fox fur also have high carbon footprints, approximately 23 times worse for the climate than cotton, and 18 times worse for the climate than polyester. Fur farming also scores poorly for air emissions, water pollution, and water consumption.

You can help all animals and our planet by choosing compassion on your plate and in your glass. #GoVeg

More on this topic

Popular stories

The U.S. Receives “D” Rating For Its Protection Of Farmed Animals & Wildlife In World Animal Protection’s Newest Report

Sadly, new research by World Animal Protection reveals that the United States continues to lag behind many other countries in its protections for farmed animals...

Another North Atlantic Right Whale Has Been Found Dead Off The Coast Of Nova Scotia

The remains of an adult North Atlantic right whale were found approximately 140 kilometers off the southwestern shore of Nova Scotia. This is a...

Victory! U.S. Judge Revokes Permit For Keystone XL Pipeline That Was Expected To Stretch From Canada To Nebraska

Photo By: Sierra Club A federal judge ruled yesterday that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers violated the law when it approved Nationwide Permit 12, a key...