HELSINKI Videos produced by groups defending animal rights and released this Thursday, April 19, opened a new front of pressure on the multimillion dollar fur market in Finlandthe biggest of Europe and second largest in the world in this field. Pictures show the conditions under which foxes are tended to before slaughter, revealing animals that are malformed, diseased, and even eating the remains of individuals of their own kind.
The images, taken in 2022 without authors’ permission, were obtained from the Finnish association Oikeutta Eläimille (Justice for Animals). They show six breeding sites for giant foxes, four of which are certified for treating the animals “well”.
Locked up in metal cages that are far too small, the extremely thickskinned foxes develop eye, ear and tail infections. “The living conditions of these animals on these farms are frankly terrible,” activist Kristo Muurimaa said in an interview with FrancePresse.
According to Muurimaa, foxes that cannot meet their exercise needs are susceptible to behavioral diseases. The animals would also undergo excessive breeding to increase their size, resulting in deformation of their skin, for example.
In the videos, some foxes are so overweight they don’t even look like foxes anymore. Some are also seen devouring the corpses of some of their children. According to the association, the problem is widespread and “all fur farms in Finland are more or less identical in the treatment of the animal”.
A white fox with an ear infection is filmed on July 30, 2022 in Naerpio, Finland. Photo: Oikeutta Elaimille/ AFP
“Fur farming should already be banned in Finland. I find it unfortunate that this is still not the case,” said Mai Kivela, parliamentarian for the Left Alliance, which is part of the governing coalition.
The Finnish Fur Farmers’ Association (FIFUR) confirmed to FrancePresse that four of the six farms identified by the environmentalists have a hygiene quality certificate. However, the company condemned the unauthorized recording of the videos, saying they did not reflect reality.
The organization says it has shown the videos to its breeders, but they “do not recognize their animals, except maybe a silver fox.” “They give a completely wrong picture,” said OlliPekka Nissinen, a spokesman for FIFUR.
Baby fox eats a dismembered skull in a breeding cage in Kaustinen, Finland. Photo: Oikeutta Elaimille/ AFP July 1, 2022
The four certified farms “are well managed, certified and have breeders who take care of their animals,” Nissinen said. Still, veterinary visits are being arranged to investigate the allegations, FIFUR said.
The certification system, which is intended to certify the health of the animals, includes annual inspection visits. “Generally, a farm with between 5,000 and 10,000 animals…can have sudden infections,” but statistics show that “injuries and mortality are fairly low,” Nissinen argued.
With around one million furs produced per year, Finland is the second largest fox fur producer in the world after China. The sector has strong support from the country’s political wings, which do not oppose an activity that generates around 360 million euros (2 billion reais) in exports a year and is responsible for 3,000 jobs, mostly in rural areas.
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A fox throws itself against a cage at a hatchery in the Finnish city of Naerpio. Photo: Oikeutta Elaimille/ AFP 07/30/2022
In December, a European citizens’ initiative calling for an EUwide ban garnered a million signatures, enough to force a response from the European Commission. Several member states have already banned reproduction, but the appeal aims to extend it to 27 countries as it is considered an “inherently cruel” practice.
In Finland, Prime Minister Sanna Marin announced in 2020, under pressure from her Left Alliance and Greens partners, that she supported the ban but was unable to secure a majority in parliament./AFP