: Violations

The suffering of monster foxes continues in Finland

Animal rights group Oikeutta eläimille has obtained new photos from
Finnish fur farms. The footage shows extremely obese animals with severe
eye infections, heavily folded skin and badly malformed feet. They are
kept in small and barren wire mesh cages. According to veterinary
experts, these conditions cause extreme suffering to the animals.

Last year, an investigation revealed the suffering of the animals. The
new material proves that the breeding of these monster foxes continues
in spite of international protests and media attention. Kristo Muurimaa from Oikeutta eläimille says:

“The reason behind the suffering is the greed of the fur industry. Bigger skins mean more money to the farmers. The skins of these animals then end up being used as luxury items by fashion brands such as
Burberry, Chanel and Prada.”

According to Oikeutta eläimille, the obese foxes in the new footage are
a norm rather than exceptions. In the latest fur auction in March, more
than 50 % of the blue fox skins belonged to the biggest size category.

A study conducted in 2012 found, that the average weight of the farmed
blue foxes in Finland was 19,4 kg. In the wild these animals weigh from
3 to 5 kg.

After the exposé last year, several international fashion brands have
announced that they’ll stop using real fur. These companies include
Gucci, Versace and Michael Kors. Furthermore, the city of San Francisco
has banned the sales of fur in the city.

Kristo Muurimaa:

“The fur industry has become a disgrace for Finland and has put it’s reputation as an animal friendly country to shame. Our politicians are more interested in the money than the welfare of the animals.”

Finland urged to end the breeding of severely obese foxes for fur

FINLAND, 8 NOVEMBER 2017 – The selective breeding of super-sized foxes, that was recently exposed on Finnish fur farms, has caused an uproar in the international press. The shocking footage, that shows Arctic foxes so large they can barely move, has alarmed citizens and animal rights organisations across the globe.

Member organisations of the international animal protection coalition Fur Free Alliance urge Finland to use all measures available to end the cruel breeding of the extremely overweight Arctic foxes.


Veikka Lahtinen, the campaign coordinator of the Finnish animal rights organisation Animalia, says:

“The industry has been aware of the problem for a while. A study published in 2014 showed that during autumn as many as 86 percent of the animals had bent feet and a shocking 20 percent were morbidly obese. Officials need to take action and the Finnish Animal Welfare Act needs to grant officials a stronger mandate to ban selective breeding that causes significant damage to the animal.”

The Arctic foxes that are fattened up for the fur trade sometimes weigh 5 times their natural weight. As a result of the overweight, the foxes suffer from severe welfare problems such as loose skin and bent feet.

Member organisations of the Fur Free Alliance encourage companies in Finland and all around the world to give up fur products entirely and go fur-free. Brigit Oele, program manager of the Fur Free Alliance, says:

“Serious animal welfare problems are inherent to fur production. There is simply no way to keep animals in tiny battery cages without causing extreme suffering.”

Hugely overweight foxes revealed on Finnish fur farms

FINLAND, 19 AUGUST 2017 – New footage from five Finnish fur farms shows that the selective breeding of super sized foxes – which caused an uproar in the 1980s – has not come to an end. The video material was filmed during the spring of 2017, says Oikeutta eläimille (Justice for Animals), the organization that released the material.

Super-sized obese fox

Finnish Fur Free Alliance member Animalia has been campaigning against fur farming for decades. In 1989, the organization brought into the spotlight the oversized ”super fox”. The so-called super fox was an exceptionally large and fast growing fox which was systematically bred on fur farms. As a result of the 1989 uproar and the resulting public pressure, fur farmers stopped breeding these super foxes.

Watch the footage here:

However, over the last few years, selective breeding of unnaturally big fur animals is again on the rise. Heidi Kivekäs, Animalia’s Acting Executive Director, says:

“For many years, the fur industry has been assuring super foxes are no longer being bred. The images released by Oikeutta eläimille show the situation is much worse than in the 1980s. In order to get bigger skins, the foxes are becoming increasingly bigger. They are a really sad example of how little the fur industry cares about the welfare of fur animals.”

Already in 1989, it was established that the rate at which the foxes were growing in size caused painful limb deformities and other health problems. These health problems have not come to an end but are even worse. According to a 2014 report published by Maatalouden tutkimuskeskus, the Finnish Agricultural Research Center, up to 86 per cent of farmed foxes were suffering from bent feet, and over 20 per cent of the animals were significantly obese.


fox overweightAccording to a 2016 report by the Finnish Natural Resources Institute, the size of the blue fox has increased considerably in recent years, which has also affected their foot health. Blue fox obesity and feet deformities make it difficult for them to move. Laura Uotila, Animalia’s Animal Protection Expert, says:

“It’s quite common these days for caged blue fox males to weigh over 20 kilogrammes, while in nature, the arctic fox usually weighs from 3 to 4 kilogrammes. In addition, the loose and folded skin and bent feet cause considerable welfare problems for these animals. The Finnish Animal Welfare Law already makes it possible to prohibit selective animal breeding if it causes animal suffering. In practice, however, the law is not respected.”

Finland is in the process of reforming its current Animal Welfare Law which is over 20 years old. Animal rights organisations are demanding significant improvements to be written into the new law. Laura Uotila:

”The new Animal Welfare Law needs to be stricter and it needs to mandate authorities to prohibit and intervene in selective breeding that causeshealth problems for animals. This is especially important as the fur industry itself is not doing anything about this.”

Polish zoo opens sanctuary for injured foxes from fur farms

POLAND, 17 JANUARY 2017 – Cyryl and Ferdinand, the two injured foxes that were rescued from Polish fur farms, are settling in their new sanctuary in the Poznan Zoo. Last year November the zoo, in cooperation with Polish Fur Free Alliance member Otwarte Klatki (Open Cages), opened a new outside enclosure for the two foxes to recover from their injuries caused by the battery cage system on fur farms.

During an inspection the foxes were found to suffer from severe injuries and hospitalized immediately. Cyryl was in such a bad shape that his front paw needed to be amputated while Ferdynand suffered a serious skin disease.

Due to a successful fundraising action by Otwarte Klatki, the finances were raised to build an outside enclosure for the foxes. The official opening event took place on Zwierzyniecka Street in Poznań (the Old Zoo area), in the presence of the vice-president of Poznań, Tomasz Lewandowski, some members of the Poznań Town Council, the actor Michał Piróg and the Canadian photographer and activist, Jo-Anne McArthur.

The visitors could not only see two animals being brought to live in their natural surroundings, but also watch the play by Kornelia Lech, the actress of the Polish Dance Theatre (Fur Means Life Skinning) in the Grot and a photo exhibition from the Polish fur farms.

Cyryl and Ferdynand are not the first foxes that were injured so severely on Polish fur farms that they needed to be hospitalized. In 2015 two small fox cubs were rescued from a fur farm when an inspector observed the cubs were both missing limbs. Missing limbs from biting accidents and infected wounds are found to occur on a large scale on fur farms. The battery cage environment on fur farms is causing foxes numerous stress-related health problemsAnimals kept for fur are mainly active predators and inherently unsuitable for farming conditions.

Poznan zoo adopt rescued foxes from fur farmsPoznan zoo adopt rescued foxes from fur farms Poznan zoo adopt rescued foxes from fur farms Poznan zoo adopt rescued foxes from fur farms
Poznan zoo adopt rescued foxes from fur farms
Poznan zoo adopt rescued foxes from fur farms

Severe animal cruelty on Polish fur farms revealed

7 DECEMBER 2016 – For two months, an employee of a fur farm in Masanów, Poland, observed and recorded his everyday work, which included numerous cases of cruelty to animals. The farm breeds over 80,000 American minks each year, and in autumn they are killed and skinned for fur. The recordings from the investigation have now been published by Open Cages.

The shocking video reveals numerous cases of cruel handling of animals: the beating of minks by angry employees, throwing them against walls, trampling them during their escape attempts or tossing them into cages by the tail.

WATCH THE VIDEO: Note the video contains graphic scenes.

The recordings document the large amount of animals that are sick and left without any care. Some minks are partly paralyzed and have visible bloody wounds with protruding bones or hatching larvae. The former employee says that the only thing that can be done is to move the animals to separate cages or use a disinfectant:

“There is a special spray that can be used on sick minks, but in practice no one uses it because the system has no room for treatment. It’s all about the fur, not the animal. The hardest parts were witnessing the murder of animals and the senseless violence. The minks held in cages scream and squeal. For some workers, this is enough to beat them.”

Each day, workers remove dozens of dead minks from cages. The bodies of some of them show deep, painful wounds and severe damage. Paweł Rawicki from Open Cages, says:

“The recordings debunk one of the biggest myths of the fur industry – that the breeders take proper care of the minks because otherwise their fur would be of no use to them. As you can see, it’s not true.”

Animals that don’t make it to the autumn slaughter are skinned anyway, which can also be witnessed in the video by the former employee.

Cruelty polish fur farm

The farm is operated by Farm Equipment International and is part of the Dutch fur empire owned by the Leeijen brothers, who are said to be the biggest providers of mink furs in the world. The company owns 14 farms all around Poland and is only one of many Dutch businesses that are investing in the Polish fur industry. Due to a complete ban on fur farming in the Netherlands, leading fur makers are currently moving their operations to Poland and Lithuania.

This is not the first case of cruel animal mistreatment revealed to be taking place on this company’s farms. On 6th November 2016, two employees of a Farm Equipment International facility in Giżyn received a sentence of six months’ imprisonment suspended for a 2-year trial period. Recordings of animal rights activists from ‘Szczecińska Inicjatywa na Rzecz Zwierząt BASTA!’ show the employees as they brutally throw minks into gas chambers, hit them against cages and beat them severely.

Cruelty polish fur farm

On 15th November 2016, Open cages petitioned the Polish members of Parliament for the ban of canid fur farming, which includes foxes as well as racoon dogs. The petition has been signed by 120,000 people. It is the first step in the direction of ending the suffering of millions of creatures in these facilities, leading to a complete ban of fur farming of any kind of animals.

The petition to stop animal cruelty on Polish fur farms can be signed here.


High level of violations revealed on Norwegian fur farms

OSLO, 27 OCTOBER 2016 – Norwegian fur farms are facing a highly uncertain future after repeated reports of negligence and injured animals in recent years. The Norwegian Food Safety Authority (Mattilsynet) states their inspectors were shocked by high level of violations and injuries on Norwegian fur farms during recent inspections. This week Norwegian Fur Free Alliance member NOAH delivered a petition to the Ministry of Agriculture of 143000 signatures of Norwegians that favour a phasing-out of fur farms in Norway.

Injured mink

Now state regulators have found more suffering minks, and say it’s difficult to secure animal welfare at the farms. Torunn Knævelsrud, chief of the animal welfare division at the Norwegian Food Safety Authority, says:

‘When there’s been so much attention paid to the injured animals that have been found, it’s sad that we continue to uncover so many serious cases.’

One mink nearly skinned itself alive
New figures from the Norwegian Food Safety Authority show violations in nearly half of the inspections conducted, despite all the harsh criticism that’s been directed at the industry not only from animal rights activists but also from government officials and Members of Parliament. Many of the violations are technical in nature, but inspectors remain shocked by the animal injuries and neglect they continue to find.

Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that five recent cases highlight “serious negligence” on the part of the fur farmers involved. One of them, located in Rogaland County, was fined NOK 30,000 after several of his caged minks were found with such large open sores that they had to be put to death at the scene.

According to the inspectors’ report obtained by NRK, the Rogaland fur farmer was charged with a lack of supervision of his animals, including one that had crawled into a plastic pipe and all but skinned itself alive in its efforts to free itself. “You had not seen that this mink was stuck in a pipe before Mattilsynet came for inspection, even though the extent of the injuries indicate that it had been stuck for many days,” wrote the inspector:

“We also point out that we found several of your animals with extensive sores that hadn’t been attended to (…) you have not followed up on your sick and injured animals in a good manner (…) you have shown a lack of empathy.”

The fur farmer denies he’s guilty of cruelty to animals and his attorney told NRK he will likely appeal the fine.

Fur farmers on the defensive

The fur farmers’ trade association and lobbying group, Pelsdyralslaget, also defends its members, claiming that many farmers have improved their practices and that most violations involve “technical deficiencies.” The group’s communications chief, Guri Wormdal, argues that animal welfare is no worse within fur farming than other farming operations. “We are also inspected the most often by Mattilsynet,” Wormdal told NRK.

The fur industry has been given many chances to reform and improve operations, and major state reviews have been undertaken, but now its fate is more uncertain than ever.

The state agriculture ministry is due to deliver its assessment to Parliament this fall, which is expected to determine whether the ministry will allow yet another chance for “sustainable development” or order a phase-out over the next several years. Many politicians, including several from the government parties, are already supporting the latter option. The opposition Labour Party has also supported a phase-out of the controversial industry.