Being largely banished to fashion history in the 1980’s following continual pressure by animal activists; fur has recently made an unprecedented reappearance. This is no more obvious than in Australia, where designers have started to feature large numbers of fur designs in their annual winter collections.
Rabbit fur (which is also sold under the labels cony, coney, comb or lapin) is the fastest growing part of the international fur trade and the most commonly used material in the making of both fur coats and hats. It takes 30-40 rabbits to make just one fur coat. Each year over 50 million animals are slaughtered worldwide for their fur. This figure fails to even include the number of rabbits killed, as no accurate records are maintained.
There are two main breeds in the commercial rabbit farming industry: Rex and New Zealand White.
Both breeds are factory farmed across Europe and Asia, kept in battery style systems of tiered wire cages, where animals are barely able to move and are denied all forms of natural behaviour. These housing systems are designed to maximise profits, always at the expense of the rabbits, with most going insane from the extreme confinement. Killing methods are gruesome on fur farms, with no laws to protect the animals. In order to preserve the quality of fur animals are bludgeoned to death or have their throats slit. However, the most common form of slaughter is to skin the rabbits while still alive and fully conscious.
If most fur is from Europe and China, what about Australia?
In Australia rabbits are not specifically bred for their fur. While the skins of meat rabbits were generally never used for fur, as they are considered sub-standard, the increasing demand for fur in this country has meant that they are now being utilised.
As the price of rabbit meat has not significantly increased over the last several years, farmers will exploit the ability to make an income off the pelts of the rabbits they butcher. This has allowed farms that would otherwise have closed down to remain in operation; continuing to cage rabbits in appalling conditions and slaughter thousands per year (see ‘What’s wrong with rabbit farms?‘ for the housing conditions on Australian farms).
What about Angora fur?
Angora fur comes from rabbits which are not killed, but rather shaved for their fur. In order to achieve this, terrified rabbits are forcefully strapped to a board, where they are rendered completely incapable of movement. They are shaved quickly and roughly, with the clippers often biting into their thin skin and leaving wounds.
Angora rabbits are housed in the same conditions as all intensively farmed rabbits; confined to small battery cages. Raised wire flooring leads to ulceration of their delicate feet, leaving them in excruciating pain (see ‘illness and disease’ for all common health problems present in farmed rabbits). As these rabbits are not killed for their fur, they suffer for many years before their productivity falls and they are sent to slaughter. Because male angora rabbits yield 80% less fur than females, they are killed at birth.
This undercover footage reveals how rabbits suffer in all countries where they are raised and slaughtered for their fur. This extreme cruelty is all carried out entirely for the sake of vanity. To find out how you can help stop this suffering please visit our ‘Get Involved’ page.