Chinchilla farm investigation calls for fur ban

Investigators undercover at fur farms in Romania have found chinchillas living in dirty, stacked cages with no ventilation and with mounds of droppings piled on the floor below them.

Humane Society International/Europe filmed conditions from April to October last year at four fur farms in Transylvania and surrounding areas.

They recorded adult chinchillas desperately gnawing on the cage bars and babies struggling to move on the wire floors, their paws slipping through the cage gratings.

Although chinchillas are very social animals, they were isolated from each other on farms except when mating or raising offspring.

The investigation prompted members of the National Liberty Party to submit a bill to ban mink and chinchilla fur farming. HSI/Europe has submitted evidence to the Romanian Prime Minister, formally requesting a ban on fur farming.

At the same time, several hundred thousand people have so far signed a European Citizens’ Initiative calling for a ban on fur farming across the European Union. The initiative must collect 1 million signatures to obtain a formal response from the European Commission.

“When talking about fur farming, it is often the mink that takes center stage and the chinchillas are somewhat overlooked. Our survey is one of the few to prove that chinchillas, as well as any other species bred for fur production, are suffering tremendously,” HSI/Europe communications director Yavor Gechev told Treehugger.

“The investigation is also important because it shows that it is impossible to achieve minimum standards of animal welfare in the farming of fur animals and that the only way to end this cruel practice is through a ban. total.”

If the bill passes, Romania will become the 20th country in Europe to ban fur farming, including France, Ireland and Italy. Discussions about a federal ban are also underway in Lithuania, Poland and Spain. Germany and Switzerland have strict regulations which have effectively ended this practice and three other countries (Denmark, Hungary and Sweden) have stopped the breeding of certain animals.

Minimum requirements

HSI


More than 100 million animals, including chinchillas, foxes and mink, are bred and killed for their fur around the world, according to HSI.

Mink farming tends to take place in rural areas where the animals are kept in rows of cages. Chinchilla breeding, however, often occurs in building rooms in residential areas.

The conditions noted in the survey do not meet the “five freedoms” of animal welfare, which define the minimum conditions an animal must have for healthy physical and mental condition when cared for by humans. They include the absence of hunger and thirst; discomfort; pain, injury and disease; fear and distress, and the ability to express normal behavior with sufficient space, facilities and the company of other animals.

“The factory-farm style cage in which these chinchillas are forced to exist, piled from floor to ceiling, fails to meet nearly every measure of the internationally recognized five freedoms of animal welfare,” said Alastair MacMillan, veterinary consultant for HSI, after viewing the undercover footage.

“Chinchillas are naturally very social animals, but on these fur farms they are kept in solitary cages. They have a strong desire to run, jump, dig, forage for food and regularly take sand baths, yet their tiny cages with only minimal enrichment mean they are unable to display these natural behaviors of significantly, which must cause them significant frustration and psychological distress.

MacMillan adds that standing for long periods on the wire-mesh floor can be painful and hurt your feet.

The investigation also found that some fur farmers said they snap the animals’ necks, which is not an approved method of ending their lives.

“Cervical dislocation – breaking the animal’s neck – is a totally inappropriate method of killing chinchillas, and if these animals are routinely killed in this way, as some fur breeders admit, it will surely be a horrible end to a miserable life,” MacMillan said.

End fur farming

HSI


Economic analysis by HSI suggests ending fur farming would have minimal impact as the industry is in decline. Some farmers have said raising chinchillas is no longer viable as a full-time job. They said the prices per pelt have come down significantly and they’ve reduced production.

In 2019, California was the first state to ban the production and sale of new fur products. The legislation will take full effect in 2023. Hawaii and New York are also considering fur ban legislation.

Many fashion designers and retailers have announced fur-free policies. In recent years, Burberry, Canada Goose, Chanel, Gucci, Oscar de la Renta, Prada, Valentino and Versace have removed fur from their lines.