speed dating scientists

Three minutes with an animal welfare expert

What kind of scientist are you?

I'm a veterinarian. I specialize in animal welfare science.

Oh! So you know about the fur industry?

Sure! The ethics of fur production really interests me.

How long has the fur industry been around?

Well, cavemen men started it. When hunters trapped and shot animals with attractive pelts in the new world, it became industrialized. Hunting led to the near extinction of wild populations, and then the fur trade followed other industrial animal production systems.

I find all the terms around farming so weird. We call cows ‘cattle’, or the word “livestock”. It removes the fact that they’re creatures with thoughts and feelings. I recently saw a video of crocodiles being farmed and skinned for luxury accessories. They were in these tiny pens so they couldn’t move their claws enough to mark their skin.

Yeah… Almost all animals farmed for fur are housed in small cages. Minks, chinchillas, and foxes, which are all animals we relatively domesticated, are unable to express the behaviors that their instincts tell them they need to. They are bred and killed using inhumane methods early in life to produce the best quality fur.

It’s so sad.

It’s not just caging that threatens animals’ welfare. Have you seen film footage of baby harp seals being bludgeoned to death in Canada’s annual seal hunt? This continues today despite heaps of negative publicity. The consequence for animals who produce this fur is that they are not just killed inhumanely early in their lives - but they live that life housed on farms with inhumane conditions where profit is paramount.

The reality is that it’s impossible to provide reasonable welfare standards in this type of production system. Many countries have recognized this and have banned the industry entirely.

Yeah, Copenhagen just banned fur from Fashion Week! Not just from designer’s shows, but attendees!

That’s big. To have a country with a long history and tradition in the fur industry stand up and say animal welfare is bigger than this - that the history of our planet and the animals living upon it is bigger than human tradition… That’s a win.

What can we do?

Stop buying new fur, educate yourself, and talk about what you learn! The more people understand the confined, boring and depressing lives of animals farmed for their fur, the more likely they are to stop wearing it. It takes great avarice to put your appearance above the basic health and behavioral needs of animals unfortunate enough to be covered with attractive fur.

BRB. Going to google avarice in the bathroom.