Is it possible that people like the fictional fur-crazed Cruella DeVille actually exist? Most countries are taking great strides to limit animal pelt trade and fur farming; the practice was made illegal in the United Kingdom in the year 2000, and the European Union has work hard to restrict family-owned fur-farms. However, there are many farms that fall below the radar. In the prominent Chinese city of Beijing, a small group of animal rights activists discovered several fur farms with terrible conditions and markets selling animal pelts. By impersonating interested European buyers, the activists were able to record some of the actions on hidden cameras at one such fur farm.

The farm, like many others of its kind, houses as many as 300 “raccoon dogs” in small, feces-littered cages where they are fed insufficiently and given no medical attention. The hidden cameras took gruesome footage of the workers taking the pelts of these raccoon dogs, in some cases literally skinning them alive. The activists were horrified to see the corpses of the skinned animals fed to the other raccoon dogs in cages, or just left out to rot. While attending an open-air fur market, they repeatedly watched animals get selected, stunned and stripped of their fur by workers who seemed unaffected.

After witnessing these horrors, the fur trader assembled the undercover activists along with several other interested parties (most of whom hailed from the West) and he gave prices and listed areas around the world where his furs were shipped. The activists attending the meeting raised suspicion and were asked if they were journalists, and one activist was even taken to the police and forced to turn over his videos and film. However, many images and film footage did succeed in escaping the authorities in China, and has provided us a helpful exposition of this cruel industry.

Fur Farming Statistics

According to the International Fur Trade Federation, the country of China is one of the global leaders in the imported fur trade, selling nearly one third of the world’s animal pelts. This isn’t just an issue in Asia, though several European countries have begun to crack down on pelt harvesting, this industry has been championed by family farms in Europe, which collectively produce a whopping 60% of the industry’s animal pelts.

A shocking study conducted in 2010 estimated that 30 million mink, 25 million foxes, 12 million raccoon dogs would be killed and used in fashion, in China in just one year alone. But if Europe produces more pelts, why is China in the hot seat? Fur farming does continue in Europe (especially in countries like Spain, Norway and Finland). Though believed to be abhorrent by many, these countries are still forced to comply with regulations under the European Union, whereas there are no such limitations and cruelty-prevention statutes in China. Fur farming is practiced without any regulation, which is why it is a particularly unfortunate and dire situation.

Tragically, though the United Kingdom officially outlawed the import of both cat and dog fur, many believe that the fur coats, collars, belts, boots, etc. still make it into mainstream shops under the guise of other animal names. While action is being taken, animal rights organizations need all the help, funding, and support they can get as they oppose the giants of the fur trade, whose incomprehensible methods are stomach-churning for pet lovers and animal lovers across the world.