LAST UPDATED: 1 June 2017
As the cooler weather sets in and we get ready to turn on our heaters, pile on the layers and dig out the extra blankets from the cupboard — our furred, feathered and woolly friends are facing their darkest days. Animals like rabbits, geese, foxes and sheep are born with insulating coats which help them survive extreme temperatures — but tragically it is a demand for these fibres that can cause them tremendous suffering, and even death.
Cruel industries generate huge profits by stealing the winter coats from animals. And while not all animals are killed for their coats — the 'lives' of many farmed for fur and feather 'harvesting' is arguably a fate worse than death. Not only do alternatives to animal fibres exist — but they are readily available. By checking labels, and choosing animal-free clothing and blankets this winter — you can not only keep yourself warm, but show our animal friends a little warmth at the same time.
Here are four reasons to choose kindly this winter:
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1. Angora makes bunnies scream. Rabbits will only cry out when in severe pain or distress — and angora fur 'harvesting' is noisy work. An investigation by PETA showed rabbits in Chinese angora 'farms' being tied down on racks and screaming as their fur is torn from their bodies by hand. 90% of the world's angora fur comes from China, where there are no animal welfare laws.
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2. Down was keeping someone else warm first. Down is the layer of soft and tiny feathers closest to a bird's body. Ducks, geese and other birds need it to keep warm — and quilt and coat companies take it from them to sell for profit. Down is often 'harvested' through a process called 'live-plucking', which is as disturbing as it sounds: struggling geese and ducks as young as ten weeks old are held down, potentially having a wing or leg broken in the process, and then have their feathers ripped out by the roots. As with angora fur, most down sold in products in Australia comes from China — where no animal protection laws exist.
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3. Wool hurts lambs and sheep. Did you know that as many as 15 million lambs die from exposure every year in Australia? Those who survive are met soon after by other realities of being born into the Australian wool industry — they can legally have their tails cut off along with the skin around their buttock (called 'mulesing') and the males will be castrated — all without pain relief. When they're old enough, their wool will be sheared — which can not only cause distress, but serious injury. The reality is that sheep are not protected by even some of the most basic animal welfare laws in Australia.
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4. Fur isn't 'fashion' — it's cruelty. While mink, foxes and rabbits are the most frequently bred — the fur industry takes many victims, including possums, wallabies, seals — and even cats and dogs. China is the world's largest fur exporter, and the vast majority of animals raised to be killed will spend their short lives in 'battery' cages. Animals in China's fur farms suffer in the most extreme ways imaginable — and are killed by electrocution, beating, strangling or gassing — and can even have their skins stripped off while still alive. Fur isn't 'fashionable' — it's cruel. And cruelty is UGLY.