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February 2, 2011

HSI and Chinese Animal Protection Groups Applaud Renowned Chinese Designer Guo Pei for Rejecting Seal Fur

Humane Society International/Canada

MONTREAL (Feb. 2, 2011)—Humane Society International sent Guo Pei a letter [PDF] thanking her for rejecting the cruelty inherent in using seal fur. Guo initially considered using seal fur in a dress design she was creating for Chinese celebrity Dong Qing. However, online messages of concern began pouring in from around the country from Chinese citizens outraged at the prospect of her using the skin of a baby seal. The renowned designer responded in just a few hours by making the responsible and compassionate decision not to use seal fur in her design, pledging never again to use animal fur in her work.

"Canada's two largest trading partners, the United States and the European Union, have already banned seal product trade, and it is clear that China will never emerge as a significant market for seal products," said Rebecca Aldworth, executive director of Humane Society International/Canada. "It is time for the Canadian government to implement a federal sealing industry buyout and move Canada beyond commercial sealing."

"Guo Pei has made a wise and compassionate decision which will resonate with millions of people in China," said Jill Robinson, founder & CEO, Animals Asia Foundation. "By choosing not to use seal fur in her designs, Ms. Guo is sending a clear message to Canada's commercial sealing industry—that China will not become a dumping ground for products that nobody wants."

"I am so proud of Guo Pei and all the Chinese people who voiced their opinions on this matter. So many of us in China know about the suffering that Canada's commercial seal slaughter causes defenseless baby seals," said Qin Xiaona, director of Beijing's Capital Animal Welfare Association. "We do not want seal products promoted in our country."

"Just as the rest of the world is rejecting seal products from Canada, so too are the people of China," said Xiao Bing, chairman of Xiamen Animal Protection Education Committee. "Chinese consumers are compassionate and we will not accept seal products in our market."

In the lead-up to the next federal election, Fisheries Minister Gail Shea has heavily publicized her aggressive marketing efforts on behalf of the sealing industry in China. Notably absent from her communications, however, was any mention of the growing movement in China to prohibit seal product trade and the overwhelming response from Chinese consumers against purchasing seal products. While Minister Shea promoted seal fur at a trade show in Beijing, hundreds of letters were distributed by local activists, urging Minister Shea and her sealing industry colleagues to leave China.

With global markets for seal products closing fast, Humane Society International Canada is urging the Canadian government to implement a one-time buyout of the commercial sealing industry. Such a program would compensate fishermen for lost income as the seal hunt is ended, and invest in economic alternatives in the communities involved.

A 2010 poll by Ipsos Reid found half of Newfoundland sealers holding an opinion support a federal sealing industry buyout.

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Humane Society International/Canada is a leading force for animal protection, representing tens of thousands of members and constituents across the country. HSI Canada has active programs in companion animals, wildlife and habitat protection, marine mammal preservation and farm animal welfare. HSI Canada is proud to be a part of Humane Society International—one of the largest animal protection organizations in the world, with more than 11 million members and constituents globally—On the Web at hsicanada.ca.

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