CROATIA, 3 JANUARY 2017 – On January 1, the long-awaited Croatian fur farming ban, that was adopted in 2006, came into full force and was celebrated worldwide. After a phase-out period of 10 years the ban, that was supported by large majority of the Croatian citizens, finally came into effect signifying the end one of the cruelest and most critizised industries of today: the raising and killing of animals solely for the purpose of fur production.
The ban coming into force is the result of the long-lasting, dedicated, and persistent struggle of citizens, experts, institutions and animal protection organizations. On their behalf, Animal Friends Croatia will deliver a cake to the Ministry of Agriculture. This symbolic gesture is an act of gratitude to the competent ministry for heeding the public outcry and to celebrate the historic victory for animal rights in Croatia. A letter of appreciation will be sent to Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović.
Most farmers of chinchillas, which are the only animals farmed for fur in Croatia, have ceased production in the years since the fur farming ban made it into the Animal Protection Act in 2006. But a scheming minority of farmers has continued to produce, aiming to bring down the ban. This summer, a chinchilla farming lobby singlehandedly managed to force the adoption of a new Animal Protection Bill, which leans in their favor. However, citizens resolutely rose against abolishing the ban.
Citizens, veterinarians, politicians, MEPs, public figures, civil society organizations, and institutions are all in support of the ban on fur farming. However, a new public hearing on the proposal to extend the phase-out period for an additional year, under urgency, was opened last December. The indignant public again rejected the proposal, as it did 10 years ago. Ethical awareness of the Croatian citizens has overcome petty financial interests and placed Croatia on the map of civilized countries that respect public opinion and are adopting high, ethical and environmental standards for the treatment of animals.
In recent years an increasing number of European countries have, or are considering, legislation to prohibit fur farming. In the last two decades the UK, The Netherlands, Slovenia, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Macedonia all voted to ban the fur farming industry. Currently similar legislation is considered in Luxembourg, Czech Republic, Norway and Germany.
BRUSSELS, 15 JULY 2016 – This month all eleven Croatian members of the European Parliament have spoken out against fur farming. Their statements come after a recent proposal to change the Croatian Animal Protection Act including the fur farming ban.
In 2007 the Croatian government decided to end the breeding and killing of animals for fur. The ban included a 10-year phase out period and thus would go into effect next year. Nine years into the transition, the ban is now put at risk due to a proposal that would exclude chinchilla’s from the ban. Chinchillas, ironically, are the only animals farmed for fur in Croatia.
Croatian MEPs in the European Parliament – Biljana Borzan, Ivan Jakovcic, Ivana Maletic, Marijana Petir, Tonino Picula, Andrej Plenkovic, Jozo Rados, Davor Ivo Stier, Davor Skrlec, Dubravka Suica i Ruza Tomasic – regardless of their political affiliation, have stated that their support for the existing fur ban is motivated by ethical and ecological reasons, the opinion of the Croatian and European public as well as by the direction indicators of the EU Member States’ legislation.
Member of Parliament Tonino Picula, representative of the Croatian Social-Democratic Party, states:
“I strongly believe that all arguments that were in favour of the fur farming ban ten years ago can still be applied today, and that cancelling that ban would take us as a civilisation a step backwards. A ten-year phase-out period stipulated by the Provision was and remains an expression of appreciation of arguments of the entrepreneurs who were given an entire decade to adjust their businesses. Everyone who understands business cycles even a little cannot deny that this is a very friendly and generous gesture by lawmakers.”
MEP Ruza Tomasic, member of the European Conservatives and Reformist groups, says:
“I give my support to the existing provision of the Animal Protection Act from 2006 which banned fur farming. I consider it unnecessary to exclude chinchillas from the ban solely for the purpose of personal profits of individuals or companies who torture and kill animals in immoral ways. Unfortunately, chinchillas have been brought to the verge of extinction in their natural habitats precisely because of the greed of individuals and for the purpose of selling their fur.”
Since 2007 the number of chinchilla fur farms in Croatia has dropped significantly. According to some sources there are now just 50 farmers left, which is only a fifth of the number of farmers at the time the ban was introduced. However, the Ministry of Agriculture itself recently confirmed that currently only 20 farmers are registered. It is unknown whether all of those farmers are still active or how many of them became active after the ban was introduced.
In the Netherlands the fur farming of chinchillas was banned in 1997, and last year, the National Court of Appeals in The Hague reaffirmed the ban on fur farming of all animals. Even though the Netherlands is the fourth-largest producer of mink fur in the world, the court decided the fur farming ban was justified on ethical grounds. The Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs has expressed their support for the Croatian fur farming ban in a letter:
‘The recognition of the intrinsic value of animals by society and its enshrinement in law is considered to be a progressive step in the process of civilisation. In the past decades, philosophers, ethicists and sociologists have increasingly concluded that society has a clear interest in protecting the welfare of animals. People benefit from living in a society where unacceptable actions towards animals are discouraged and unlawful.’
In March the Fur Free Alliance sent a letter to urge the Croatian Minister of Agriculture to fulfill its commitment to end fur farming. Read the full letter here.
SARAJEVO, 19 JUNE 2016 – Worldwide citizens are expressing their support for the fur farming ban in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Similar to several other EU members states, the government of Bosnia and Herzegovina decided to ban fur farming on ethical grounds in 2009. The fur farming ban includes a phase-out period of 10 years providing fur farmers with a transitional period to develop a more ethical and sustainable type of business. Currently, however, the law is put at risk due to a proposed amendment that would put the ban completely off the table.
Citizens, nationally and internationally, are organising protests and a petition to urge the government to take a strong stance and keep the widely supported fur farming ban in place. This week the parliament of Bosnia and Herzegovina rejected the change of the Act in the second vote on the proposed law amendment. A third voting is yet to take place.
Currently Bosnia and Herzegovina holds about 80 fur farms, on which chinchillas, mink and rabbits are farmed solely for their fur. Animals kept on fur farms are essentially wild animals. Keeping them in small, wire mesh cages causes numerous serious welfare problems which have been extensively documented by scientific research studies. Fur farmers use the cheapest and cruelest killing methods available, including suffocation, electrocution and gassing. More concerning is that the conditions on fur farms in Bosnia and Herzegovina are hardly monitored since there is no policy regarding official inspections.
Even though fur farming is profitable, mainly due to the low animal welfare standards, the industry hardly creates employment opportunities. On an average a fur farm in Bosnia and Herzegovina employs two workers, making the number of jobs a highly insignificant argument to drop the ban. Besides that the use of hazardous chemicals in the fur production process are causing serious health risks for both employees as consumers, as various recent studies have pointed out.
Due to ethical, animal welfare and environmental reasons fur bans are currently debated upon worldwide. It would be wise for the government of Bosnia and Herzegovina to not further invest in such an unstable industry as fur farming, but better yet explore more sustainable types of industries that are profitable on the long-term.
ZAGREB, 25 FEBRUARY 2015 – Last week Croatian citizens gathered on the central square of the capital city Zagreb to make a public statement against chinchilla fur farming. In 2007 the Croatian government decided to ban fur farming with a phase-out period of 10 years. Recent lobby efforts of chinchilla breeders have focused on an exemption of the ban for chinchilla farming, which, paradoxically is the only remaining type of fur farming in Croatia. The event in Zagreb, organised by Croatian Fur Free Alliance member Animal Friends Croatia, made it clear that the vast majority of Croatian citizens does not think fur farming is acceptable. A recent poll showed that 3 out of 4 Croatian citizens are in support of a fur ban.
The Croatian Animal Protection Act, that was implemented on the first of January 2007, recognised the fur industry as an extremely cruel practice and banned breeding animals for their fur, with a 10-year phase-out period. Croatians hoped that, after almost a decade into the transitional period, the extreme animal suffering on fur farms would have come to an end. Breeders of the South American rodent have had more than enough time to transition to another, more ethical and humane form of business. The existing ban should be fully effective starting January 1, 2017.
Nine years into the phase-out period, disregarding the fact that the vast majority of chinchilla breeders have complied with the ban, the Association of Croatian breeders of chinchillas has started an initiative to overthrow it. Since chinchillas are the only animals kept on fur farms in Croatia the initiative can be regarded as a mockery of the Croatian law, government, MPs and more than 70% of citizens, who are in support of the ban.
The serious animal welfare problems that result from keeping wild animals in small cages are confirmed by numerous, extensive scientific research studies. Animal cruelty is inherent to fur production and animals on all fur farms have been found to exhibit severe health issues and stress-related symptoms as infected wounds, self-mutilation, infanticide, cannibalism and stereotypical behaviors. After a short miserable life in a small cage animals in the fur industry are killed by painful methods such as electrocution, gassing or neck breaking. Fur bans are the only legitimate solution to the serious animal welfare problems in the fur industry.
Fur farming is therefore banned in many countries, such as the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland, the Netherlands, Austria, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Macedonia, and effectively banned in Germany and Switzerland due to stricter regulations. An increasing majority of the European population finds it unjustifiable to subject animals to prolonged suffering for trivial ends, such as fur coats or fashion accessories.
ZAGREB, 9 JULY 2015 – In July, the animal advocacy organization Animal Friends Croatia held a protest in front of the Croatian Ministry of Agriculture to give voice to the millions of Croatian citizens that wish to see a ban on chinchilla fur farming in Croatia. Since the breeding of animals for the purpose of fur was banned eight years ago – with a transition period of up to ten years – the number of chinchilla fur farms in Croatia has dropped significantly. Chinchillas are currently the only animals bred for fur in Croatia and over 73 percent of the Croatians are in support of a complete ban of fur farming. Seven years into the transition, the ban is now at risk.
Animal welfare problems on chinchillas fur farms are the result of the lack of environmental enrichment in nest boxes, a restricted access to sand baths, the limited height of cages and the large plastic collars worn by females. These issues often lead to stereotypical behavior problems and injuries.
Denmark, Germany, Sweden and Austria have adopted stricter regulations or completely banned chinchilla farming. The Council of Europe has stipulated a number of recommendations for the breeding of animals for fur. The implementation of these recommendations for chinchillas has led to chinchilla fur farms in Germany and Sweden to be closed down.
Fur farming is banned in the UK and Northern Ireland, Slovenia, Switzerland, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Furthermore, the Netherlands is in the process of banning fur farming. Most recent developments show that multiple other European countries are acknowledging the fact that the practice of fur farming severely raises animal welfare problems. For this reason, the Republic of Macedonia implemented a complete ban on fur farming as of last year. In Belgium, the region of Wallonia has likewise banned fur farming as of January this year and consequently the region of Brussels is considering a ban. The acknowledgment of the inherent cruelty of fur farming is becoming more and more widespread and policymakers worldwide will not be able to turn a blind eye to their citizens’ concerns for much longer.
SAO PAOLO, 4 NOVEMBER 2014 – Chinchillas, mink and other fur animals can no longer be raised for their pelts under a new measure in the Brazilian state of São Paulo. According to the state government, Brazil is one of the biggest chinchilla producers in the world, after Argentina.
Animals bred for the fashion industry are highly stressed, mistreated and “kept in cages that are so small they cannot even move properly,” the law says. “All this cruelty makes fashion that uses animal fur immoral and unjustifiable.”
The law aims to protect animals whose fur is used for coats and other fashion accessories, including rabbits, foxes, mink, badgers, seals, coyotes, squirrels and chinchillas.
Those violating the law will face fines. “The law is going to be approved. For us, it’s over,” chinchilla growers’ association chief Carlos Peres said.
Congressman Feliciano Filho shared the success last week on his Facebook page: “Since 2011, I have worked hard to make this dream come true. It will save the lives of thousands of animals living in very small cubicles, barely able to move, only to be cruelly killed to satisfy human vanity. This is unacceptable. We suffer knowing how much they suffer.”