SERBIA, 1 JANUARY 2019 – Animal advocates around the globe rejoice as Serbia starts off the new year by effectively banning fur farms after a 10-year phase-out. The enforcement of the ban is the successful result of a decade-long decisive and persistent struggle by citizens, experts and animal rights activist during which fur industry lobby groups consistently put pressure to reverse the ban.
The adoption of the 2009 Animal Welfare Act, that outlawed fur farming in Serbia including a 10-year transitional period, was hailed by animal protection organisations worldwide. However, ever since the ban has been continuously threatened by fur trade interest groups. Desperately seeking to reverse the upcoming fur farming ban, fur farmers upped their lobbying of the Serbian government in 2018, resulting in a debate on the cancelation of the ban in a public session last June.
Animal advocate groups worldwide have persistently urged the Serbian government to stay committed to the 2009 Act and make an end to the widely-condemned practice of fur farming once and for all. To counter the campaign of misinformation spread by fur trade lobbyist in Serbia, the Fur Free Alliance worked closely together with Serbian member organisation Freedom for Animals to expose the scientific facts on fur production and stress the need for a national ban.
To generate political and media interest and push back against proposed law changes, last June the Make Fur History exhibition was organised in Belgrade by Freedom for Animals, joining international experts, decision makers and journalists to address the negative impact of fur farming.
Ultimately, Serbia’s government righteously listened to the concerned public and animal rights groups and made an end to the unnecessary and cruel practice of fur production, sparing thousands of animals unimaginable suffering on Serbian fur farms.
Snezana Milovanovic, director of the Serbian animal protection organization Freedom for Animals, says:
“For 15 years now, Freedom for Animals has advocated for a fur-free Serbia by advancing and supporting legislation to abolish this brutal exploitation of animals. With the enforcement of the 2009 Animal Welfare Act, that makes it illegal to keep, reproduce, import, export and kill animals only for the production of fur, a great victory is finally achieved. Not only is this ban important for animals kept for fur production in Serbia, but also for the whole South East European region, and it signifies a major step forward for animal rights worldwide.”
Chinchillas are the only animals kept for fur in Serbia. Each year, approximately 12.000 chinchillas were killed on Serbian fur farms by the end of the phase-out period. The intense battery cage system used on fur farms deprives chinchillas from the opportunity to express their natural behavior – such as running and jumping – and causes severe welfare problems. International studies have shown stress-related behavioral disorders, such as pelt biting and infant mortality, are highly common on chinchilla fur farms.
Learn more about welfare problems on chinchilla fur farms.
Chinchillas are rodents and are native to the Andes Mountains of northern Chile. Although often kept as pets, chinchillas were nearly driven to extinction because of the demand for their fur. To breed chinchillas for fur, the rodents were taken from their natural habitat in such large numbers chinchillas are now an endangered species. Even though chinchillas are now protected by law in their natural habitat as endangered species, the populations continue to decline. However, thousands of chinchillas are still bred commercially for their fur in several regions of Europe (i.e. Poland, Denmark, Hungary) and in South-America (Brazil and Argentina).
The ban in Serbia is in line with developments all across Europe, where in the past decades 14 countries have voted for legislation to end fur farming. In the past year alone, Norway, once world’s largest fox pelt producer, Belgium and Luxembourg adopted legislation to end fur farming. At this moment, fur farming bans are on the parliamentary agenda in Poland, Ireland, Lithuania, Denmark and Estonia.