: Animal welfare

Bulgarian Citizens Demand Ban on Fur Farming

BULGARIA, JULY 2018 – Exactly 51 234 signatures were submitted to the Bulgarian parliament by the National Citizens’ Initiative, which seeks to bring about a ban on fur farming on the country’s territory.

On June 22, 51 234 signatures in total were submitted to the national parliament, along with a proposition for an amendment to the current legislation. The goal of this amendment is to forbid the raising, killing and trade of animals for fur production in the Republic of Bulgaria”.

The Reasons

Among them are the deteriorating public perception of fur products and their process of production, the ethical and moral issues, the suffering of animals, the alarming risk for public health and for the livelihood of the local populace, the ensuing social problems, immense pollution, and a staggering threat to biodiversity.

Popular Support

All signatures were collected within the legal bounds of the National Citizens’ Initiative. The Initiative started on March 25th and was held in accordance with all relevant legislation. As such, 34 995 signatures were collected on paper from across the country, despite the stringent requirement for submitting one’s personal data along with one’s signature. In addition, 16 098 signatures were collected in an online petition on the platform change.org. 181 children also insisted on signing the Citizens’ Initiative, even though, legally, they do not have the right to take part in it.

During the last few months, an informational campaign about the influence of fur farms also took place in the country. Citizens fear that, despite the presently small number of farms in Bulgaria (officially, 3), the rate at which they are expanding is highly alarming. Within just two years, one of the mink farms doubled its declared capacity, and, as of data from 2017, 120 000 American minks are killed there every year. Worse still, the goal of this same farm is to eventually reach an annual capacity of 400 000.

In August last year, an attempt was made to change national legislation to improve conditions for the industry, but after numerous civil protests and public upheaval, the bill was withdrawn in January. The continent-wide enactment of bans one after the other in Europe is one more reason why Bulgarian citizens want to see fur farming banned in their own country as well. The business migrates every few years to countries in which such bans have not yet been adopted, as one nation after another refuses to take part in the barbarity any longer. Should Bulgaria fail to introduce this ban, it would therefore soon become unavoidable that hundreds of fur farms previously located elsewhere in Europe now pop up on Bulgarian territory, and with them – all the damage and severe risks to animal welfare, nature, and the local populace.

The production of fur is torture for animals, it is a cruel industry, and one that is entirely unnecessary in the modern, 21st century.

The National Initiative’s organizers:

 „We collected signatures in accordance with the law: only within the allotted three-month period. The requirements were such that submitting personal information, such as one’s citizen number, address etc., is mandatory to sign. Despite the cumbersome legal procedure and all the hurdles around the necessity to handle personal information, we believe that the signatures we’ve collected thus far are more than enough to clearly show the strong public opinion and the will of the people. No one, after acquainting oneself with the problem at hand, can remain indifferent to the plight of the animals, and to the catastrophic consequences for the environment and the lives of locals. It is precisely these facts that must be seriously addressed by the politicians, because these fur farms are a ticking ecological time-bomb, and indescribable agony for the animals. Numerous countries have seen reason in the past years and have promptly passed bans, even as, in some cases, fur farms have existed on their own territory for decades beforehand.”

“This petition is one more democratic litmus test for the institutions and those in power, with which we will see how capable they are of listening to the voice of the people. Whether they choose the principles of non-violence, environmental protection and a sustainable future, or fast profits, suffering, death and devastation, all depends on them now, and on their willingness to inform themselves about the issue well enough.” 

In Bulgaria, since 2013 three fur farms have been operational (officially). In 2017 alone, more than 100 000 minks were killed in the country. Since 2013, the yearly death tolls have been increasing exponentially. Despite the fact that the largest of the three has a declared capacity of 400 000 minks per year, no official evaluation of their environmental impact has been performed on any of them.

Alerts from concerned citizens about minks being noticed in the wild and in the villages around the farms have been a constant trend these few years. The mere existence of these farms is even in contravention of already existing legislation: The requirements set forth in the Biodiversity-Protection Law have not been met, and nor have those of a number of other ordinances and directives.

Educational campaign ‘Animals Are Not Clothes’ tours Belarus

BELARUS, JUNE 2018 – Last month, the anti-fur educational publication ‘Animals Are Not Clothes’ was presented at the international scientific conference Sakharov Readings 2018: Environmental Problems of the 21st Century, in the Belarus capital of Minsk. The presentation was part of a long-term campaign, organised by FFA member organisation Ecoetika, that aims to create awareness among the new generation about the cruelty of fur production.

The ‘Animals Are Not Clothes’ campaign, that is supported by the Fur Free Alliance grant programme, has so far held educational events in the cities of Minsk, Brest, Gomel, Grodno and Kobrin and continues to tour the country.

Animal cruelty is a subject that has not gained much attention so far in Belarus. Although more than 150.000 animals are killed annually on fur farms in Belarus, the country does not have any legislation in place to protect fur-bearing animals and suffers from a general lack of awareness on animal welfare issues among the public.

Ludmila Loginovskaya, director of Ecoetika, says:

“We conducted a sociological survey in Minsk in September 2017, which showed that only 5.7% of the Belarusian citizens consider the inhumane nature of fur. Belarus is a post-Soviet country and needs a large-scale educational campaign to protect animals, since it is not yet accepted to think about animal welfare.”

To create more public awareness about the animal suffering in the fur industry, the ‘Animal Are Not Clothes’ campaign will continue to reach out to the young Belarusian generation and plans educational events on a number of festivals, such as the Festival of Books in Gomel, the Pasternak Ecological Festival in Minsk.




Belgrade’s Make Fur History event counters fur trade’s propaganda

BELGRADE, 8 JUNE 2018 – Yesterday, the Make Fur History exhibition took place in the Serbian capital Belgrade and brought together international experts, lawmakers and media representatives to discuss the negative impact of fur farming. The exhibition, that was hosted by our local Serbian partner Sloboda za Zivotinje, exposed the scientific facts about the factory production of animal fur and stressed the urgency of maintaining the Serbian national ban on fur factory farms.

The timely exhibition follows just days after the Serbian parliament discussed a cancellation of the Serbian ban on fur farming during a “public session” on Tuesday, from which non-governmental organizations were entirely excluded. The ban was to go into full effect in 2019, after a 10-year phase-out period. However, blatant propaganda of the fur trade lobby, such as scandalous misinformation on animal welfare and fur farming legislation across Europe, has persuaded the Serbian government to consider withdrawing the 2009 law.

Maida Sabeta, campaign coordinator of the south-east European Fur Free Forever campaign, says:

“Chinchilla fur farming is a very small sector in Serbia, with sparse economic benefits and hardly any law enforcement. Maintaining this industry means supporting a gray economy or even black economy in Serbia.”

The event aimed to counter the false information spread by the fur trade by addressing animal ethics and welfare – in particular the welfare problems of chinchillas, the main species reared for fur in Serbia – the legislative progress in Europe and why the fur industry’s own welfare indicators, WelFur, are not in line with good animal welfare.

Along with local campaigners Mark Glover, board member of the Fur Free Alliance and Respect for Animals Campaign Director, took part in the roundtable panel:

“The arguments for Serbia to maintain its ban on chinchilla farming are overwhelming and the eyes of the world are now firmly focused on what happens next. It would be a tragedy if the bizarre campaign by the fur trade, based on insulting supporters of the ban, was to succeed. The Fur Free Alliance will do everything it can to ensure the ban comes into force next January 1.”

Prof. dr. Stevan Lilić, Professor of Law Faculty at the Belgrade University, stated:

“The issue of chinchilla fur farming is above all a moral issue. Serbian lawmakers are now pushing hard to overturn the law that was passed to ban this practice in 2009. Their motivation to cancelling the 2009 legislation is entirely unjustified.”

The Make Fur History exhibition was launched in the European Parliament in January this year and is meant to supply lawmakers with scientific evidence about the negative impact of fur farming on animals, the environment and local communities and the urgency for more national bans.

NGO’s denied access to Serbian public session on fur farming ban

BELGRADE, 4 JUNE 2018 – Fur industry groups have upped their lobbying of the Serbian government to debate a cancelation of the Serbian fur farming ban in a public session scheduled for tomorrow, June 5. Due to heavy pressure and a campaign of misinformation of the fur lobby, the fur farming ban – that should go into effect in 2019 – is now at a severe risk. By denying all animal protection organisations access to the public session, the Serbian government is shockingly undermining the principles of democracy.

With a 10-year phase-out period, Serbian fur farmers have been given the opportunity to transition to a more economically stable and sustainable industry. With less than one year left before the transitional period runs out, any change to the previously agreed upon legislation would raise serious questions regarding the Serbian legislative process.

The Fur Free Alliance urges the Serbian government to stay true to its legislative commitment to ban the farming of animals for their fur, and save sentient beings from a cruel life and death. Read our full letter to the Serbian government.

Chinchillas are they only animals kept for fur in Serbia. The intense battery cage system used on fur farms deprives chinchillas from the opportunity to express their natural behaviour – such as running and jumping – and causes severe welfare problems. International studies have shown behavioral disorders, such as stereotypies, pelt-biting and infant mortality, are highly common on chinchilla fur farms. Learn more about welfare problems on chinchilla fur farms.

The public session about the fur farming ban is scheduled just two days prior to the Make Fur History expo, that will take place in Belgrade on Thursday, June 7. The exhibition – that was launched in the European Parliament on January 23 and is now touring Europe – invites lawmakers and stakeholders to discuss the negative impact of fur farming on animals, the environment and local communities and shows the urgency for more national bans.


Greek Ministry of Culture: Fur is not Cultural Heritage

GREECE, 18 MAY 2018 – The Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports has rejected a proposal of the Greek fur industry to include fur production in Greece’s National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

The submission by the Hellenic Fur Federation was dismissed unanimously by the ministry’s Directorate of Modern Cultural Assets and Intangible Cultural Heritage, stating that fur production is not in line with UNESCO’s sustainable development goals and has an exclusively commercial objective:

“This activity, which is based on the killing of animals exclusively for the exploitation of their fur, is not compatible with sustainable development, which is a necessary requirement for a practice to be considered within the scope of the Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage UNESCO (2003).”

In 2016, the Hellenic Fur Federation submitted the proposal to include fur production in the National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage with a view to applying for UNESCO “intangible heritage” status, which, if approved, would result in the unjust promotion and protection of fur production as a heritage craft.

The dismissal follows another rejection of a cunning fur lobby strategy that was introduced recently in Kastoria – the center of the Greek fur industry – a school program entitled “Fur: Environment and Culture”. The program, that was introduced by the Regional Directorate of Primary Education in Kastoria, was quickly inactivated by the Greek Ministry of Education.

Despite the rejection of the industry’s claim that fur production is cultural heritage, teachers and MP’s in Kastoria continue to blatantly and indefensibly present the fur industry as a cultural asset and an example of ‘sustainable development’. Furthermore, the Hellenic Fur Federation wrongfully presents the local fur industry as an invaluable economical sector for the region. On the contrary, the Russian demand for Kastorian fur, which is the largest market for Kastorian fur exporters, has plummeted in recent years, causing high unemployment numbers.  The fact is that the fur industry is an economically, highly unstable industry that is banned in more and more countries worldwide.

Dutch bank Rabobank cuts ties with fur industry

11 MAY 2018 – The Dutch bank Rabobank, a global leader in agriculture financing, has announced to end its facilitation of the fur industry. The move is part of a new sustainability framework policy that was published last week and sets out the bank’s renewed standards on livestock farming and animal welfare issues.

Cutting ties with the fur industry is entirely consistent with a bank that is headquartered in The Netherlands – a country that has banned and is currently phasing out fur farming – and the global shift away from the cruel and polluting practice of fur farming.

The new sustainability policy lists the fur industry as an excluded sector that does not ‘fit into the Rabobank’s profile’ and explicitly states the bank is now precluded from: “Taking on new clients involved in fur industries, or expanding existing relationships with clients involved in fur activities”. By adopting this policy now, the bank will also be able to refuse financing Dutch fur farmers seeking to expand or move their activities to other countries.

Furthermore, the document lists angora wool and traditional foie gras production as excluded activities and makes a number of forward-thinking animal welfare commitments, particularly with regard to cage-free production for laying hens and pigs. Read the Rabobank’s full Sustainability Framework Policy.

With the decision to drop its support for the fur industry the Rabobank follows in the footsteps of Dutch banks ING and ABN AMRO, which adopted a similar policy. However, since the Rabobank is the main financier of the Dutch fur farms this announcement is a serious setback for the industry.