Humane Society International / Europe


STRASBOURG, France—Today, the European Parliament adopted a resolution unequivocal in its demands regarding the European Union’s objectives for the upcoming meeting of the parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

While Parliament is making clear statements about eliminating the scourge of wildlife trafficking, closing the loopholes in the EU wildlife trade regulations and ending the imports of hunting trophies from CITES-listed species, Humane Society International/Europe has concerns as to whether the European Commission and the Member States will pay heed to the Parliament’s demands.

In November, representatives of the countries that have signed the CITES treaty will meet in Panama for the 19th meeting of the parties. At COP19, they will decide whether an array of threatened and endangered species, including the common hippopotamus, African elephants, requiem sharks and glass frogs, should be given stronger, or weaker, international protection from overexploitation for commercial trade. Humane Society International/Europe is deeply concerned that the Commission has already recommended that the EU should not support a proposal from 10 African range states to transfer the common hippo to CITES Appendix I, which would prohibit all commercial international trade in hippo parts and products and throw a lifeline to this imperilled species. In addition, the Commission has recommended that the EU abstain on the proposal from 14 CITES Parties to list glass frogs on Appendix II, which would provide crucial protections and trade monitoring of these imperilled amphibians.

Dr Joanna Swabe, senior director of public affairs for Humane Society International/Europe, says: “We are delighted that MEPs have adopted such a strong resolution in advance of the CITES COP19 meeting, recognizing the persistent threat posed to wildlife by international trade. Given that the EU is a highly influential bloc in CITES decision-making, they are often in the position to make or break decisions. Failure to support the hippo, glass frogs and other proposals put forward by range States, who are seeking to gain much-needed extra protection for their endemic species whose survival is threatened by overexploitation for commercial trade, may push them further towards the brink of extinction. It is unconscionable for the EU not to support such proposals given its own loudly trumpeted biodiversity strategy commitments to do all it can to halt global biodiversity decline.”

In addition to demonstrating its support for various CITES proposals, the European Parliament’s resolution recognizes that the EU’s role in the global fight against wildlife trafficking needs further strengthening. MEPs echo Humane Society International’s call for the Commission to take action to close the loopholes in the existing EU wildlife trade regulations by delivering a legislative proposal to criminalize the import, export, sale, acquisition or purchase of wild species that are taken, possessed, transported or sold in violation of the law of the country of origin.

HSI also welcomes the European Parliament’s call for urgent action to be taken to prohibit the import of hunting trophies derived from CITES-listed species. The EU is the world’s second largest importer of hunting trophies behind the United States. EU law continues to allow hunters to import trophies from threatened species, many of which are protected internationally through CITES and the EU Wildlife Trade Regulations and Habitats Directive.

Liam Slattery, Humane Society International/Europe’s trophy hunting campaign director, said: “The European Parliament’s call for urgent action to curb the import of CITES-listed species hunting trophies is a move supported by a clear majority of the public across member states. The Netherlands and France have already implemented bans on certain species of trophy. The Belgian Federal Parliament has passed a unanimous resolution demanding the government stop authorising trophy import permits. And the Environment Ministry in Germany has expressed an intention to restrict import of hunting trophies from protected animal species. With other Member States also actively considering proposals to limit or prohibit trophy imports, the Commission must display leadership on this issue in line with such measures, and the EU’s own biodiversity strategy.”


  • HSI strongly urges the EU to support the CITES COP19 Proposal 1 to list the common hippo on Appendix I. Wild hippo populations are declining or unknown in 65% of countries they inhabit. Hippo ivory is popular among consumers and nearly 80,000 hippo products—nearly all wild sourced—were imported in the most recent decade for which data are available. Poaching and trafficking are a primary threat to hippos, and the illegal trade is often intermingled with legal trade. Further, the current levels of offtake—both legal and illegal—are predicted to result in future declines in wild hippo populations. This indicates the need to curtail international commercial trade in this species due to conservation concerns and the risk of promoting the illegal killing and trade. The EU contributes to the exploitation of hippos—nearly 800 hippo trophies were imported by EU Member States between 2014 and 2018.
  • HSI strongly urges the EU to support the CITES COP19 proposal to list glass frogs on Appendix II. Half of the species in this family are threatened with extinction, and individuals of highly threatened species are indistinguishable from others, necessitating the inclusion of the entire family in Appendix II. As the males of many of these frog species actively defend clutches of eggs, removal of males results in depredation of entire clutches, causing high mortality rates. Further, glass frogs have become increasingly popular in the international pet trade, and much of the trade happens illegally. Listing the family on Appendix II would bring much-needed monitoring of international commercial trade and help to stem illegal trade in these species.
  • HSI strongly urges the EU to support all of the proposals to add or increase protection for reptile and amphibian species. There are 21 of these covering 239 species which includes 53 turtle species. All these vulnerable species face threats including overexploitation for international trade. It is alarming that the Commission is not recommending support for many of these proposals from range states seeking assistance from importing countries including EU countries in controlling trade to ensure wild populations are not decimated.
  • Between 2014 and 2018, the EU imported nearly 15,000 hunting trophies—around eight per day—of 73 internationally protected species.
  • The number of trophies coming into the EU increased by 40% in five years, despite opinion polls indicating that the vast majority of EU citizens surveyed are clearly against trophy hunting and would like to see an end to this brutal industry.


Media contact: Cassie Bodin-Duval, international coordinator media relations: ; +32 (0) 469 149 469

No meaningful action from the EC on EP’s resolution despite the once-in-a-decade opportunity presented by the Chemical Strategy for Sustainability

Humane Society International / Europe


BRUSSELS— Just one year following the adoption of a groundbreaking resolution by the European Parliament to reduce the use of animals in scientific experiments asking the European Commission “to set reduction goals […]through a more proactive implementation of the current regulations on the safety of chemicals and other products”, Humane Society International is calling on European executives to use the revision of the EU’s chemical legislation to deliver on the MEPs’ request.

More than 10 million animals each year are used in laboratories around Europe for research and testing procedures that can cause them agonizing pain and suffering. The number of animals used in experiments in the European Union is not decreasing, and as the European Parliament resolution highlighted, the EU is not properly equipped to achieve the mandatory goal of replacing animals in research, regulatory testing and education.

In the next few months, the Commission will publish proposals for revising the key chemical management laws such as REACH (registration, evaluation, authorization and restriction of chemicals), CLP (classification, labeling and packaging of substances and mixtures) and Cosmetic Products. This legislative package proposed as part of the EU’s Chemical Safety Strategy represents a unique opportunity for proposing a coherent and efficient strategy to reduce the use of animals in chemical testing through the wider use of more efficient and ethical approaches.

Aviva Vetter, Humane Society International’s senior manager for cosmetics, says: “Although current binding legislation prescribes the end of animal testing, at present no operational plan with a timeline, targets, indicators and milestones is in place. Present legislation does not indicate cut-off dates for achieving progress towards the end of animal testing. The compulsory objective to achieve total replacements is therefore weakened by the absence of an operational plan.”

Humane Society International also urges the Commission to close the existing loopholes between REACH and the Cosmetic Products Regulation which still allow animal testing to be carried out for ingredients solely used in cosmetics, despite a mandatory ban being placed in 2013. Illustrating the strength of public opinion on this subject, about 1,4 million signatures have recently been collected through the “Save Cruelty Free Cosmetics” European Citizens Initiative , which calls on Member States to implement a full ban on animal testing for cosmetic products and their ingredients.

New Approach Methodologies, which describe non-animal advanced methods, offer a variety of opportunities in terms of safety, competitiveness, growth and employment which are currently being missed to the benefit of other countries such as the U.S. and Singapore, which are leading in research and innovation with NAMs.


Media contact: Cassie Bodin-Duval, international coordinator media relations, ; +32 (0) 469 149 469

Campaigners deliver petition names to Downing Street, as Labour and Liberal Democrat spokespeople write to Defra Secretary in support of a fur import ban

Humane Society International / Europe

Alice Russell

LONDON—A week after a senior Conservative MP told Politico that the government intends to drop plans to ban cruel fur and foie gras, campaigners from animal NGOs Humane Society International/UK,  FOUR PAWS UK, and PETA have gathered outside Downing Street to hand in a petition with over 300,000 signatures. Launched earlier this year by TV conservationist Chris Packham, the petition was today handed in to Prime Minister Liz Truss calling on her to end the “obscene double-standard” that allows these products of cruelty to be imported and sold in UK shops. The petition is also delivered just days after wildlife and conservation groups including the National Trust and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds accused Liz Truss of “an attack on nature” for weakening environmental rules.  

Fur farming has been banned on ethical grounds across the UK since the Fur Farming (Prohibition) Act came into force in 2003, and force feeding of geese and ducks to produce pâté de foie gras is similarly illegal. However, the UK currently permits trade in both fur and foie gras. Since the fur farming ban took effect, His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs records indicate that almost one billion pounds worth of cruel fur has been imported from countries including China, Italy, Finland and Poland. The petition urges Liz Truss to “send a global message that we will not trade in such disgusting cruelty.”

In May 2021 the government launched a Call for Evidence on the UK fur trade, with the stated intention of using the findings to inform possible future action. The consultation had received almost 30,000 responses when it closed in June 2021. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has completed its analysis of the results but despite Ministers publicly confirming these findings would be released, it has still failed to do so more than a year later.

In parallel with the petition hand-in, Shadow Animal Welfare Minister Ruth Jones MP and Liberal Democrat Environment Spokesperson Tim Farron MP have sent letters to Defra Secretary of State Ranil Jayawardena, each stating their party’s support for a fur import and sales ban and urging the government to release the findings of the Call for Evidence.

Ruth Jones MP said: “It was a Labour government that banned fur farming in 2000, blazing a trail that now 18 other countries have followed. Untold millions of animals have been spared lives of misery thanks to these bans. The next logical step is for the UK to lead the way on a fur import ban, closing UK borders to the cruel and dangerous fur trade. Government policy should be based on evidence, so surely it should be a simple job for the results of the Call for Evidence to be released and an informed policy position to be taken. Drip-feeding unevidenced U-turns to the press is a dismal way to run the government.”

Tim Farron MP said: “We are a nation of animal lovers, and how we treat animals is a measure of our humanity. The Liberal Democrats stand firm on animal welfare issues and are proud to support calls to end the UK’s complicity in the cruel global fur trade by banning the import and sale of fur.”

Each year more than 100 million animals suffer and die for their fur, the majority (around 95%) spending their entire lives trapped in barren wire cages measuring just one metre square. Injuries and disease are common on fur farms, as are animals displaying signs of psychological distress.

Chris Packham said: “There is no place in modern Britain for fur or foie gras, both of which are products of appalling cruelty. We don’t allow the freedom of choice to import elephant ivory, or whale meat, or seal, dog or cat fur, because all these things are unutterably immoral. So too is causing animals enormous pain and suffering for frivolous fur and foie gras.”

Claire Bass, executive director of Humane Society International/UK, said: “Almost 80% of British people agree that fur should not be imported and sold here, and given fur’s plummeting popularity with designers and retailers, it certainly isn’t going to be playing any part in the prime minister’s ambitions for booming economic growth. Moving ahead with a fur ban is an opportunity to reassure people that the government’s trade strategy has a moral compass, in line with voters’ expectations. No government should underestimate how much animals matter to the British people, and ending trade in products so cruel their production is already banned here, is an easy way for Liz Truss to demonstrate she understands that.”

Sonul Badiani-Hamment, FOUR PAWS UK country director, said: “Given Liz Truss’s determination to recklessly backpedal on every commitment made to British voters, we are uniting with Chris Packham and the opposition parties to send a firm message to Downing Street that we will be the thorn in their side until they start delivering for animals. We’re demanding they make public the responses to the 2021 UK fur trade Call for Evidence. But for this government, that seem to have forgotten their electoral mandate and to whom they answer, even a request for a transparent evidence-based approach is too much. Animals Matter to our climate, our health, our economy and to us, the British public, and we will not allow Liz Truss and her cabinet to forget this.”

Elisa Allen, PETA vice president of programmes, said: “The government has long promised to close our borders to cruelly produced foie gras and fur by implementing an import ban on both—legislation that is welcomed by everyone in this country except the inherently selfish. Any backtrack on these promises would betray both animals who desperately need a caring and the public, which has made its opposition to these items clear.”

National polling carried out in April 2022 shows that over three quarters (77%) of British voters think the government should ban the importation of animal products where the production methods are already banned in the UK, such as fur.

The petition hand-in comes as across Europe, more than 70 NGOs have joined together to support the “Fur Free Europe” European Citizens’ Initiative which calls for an EU-wide ban on fur farming and the import of fur products. The ECI petition was launched in May this year and has gathered more than 336,000 signatures to date.  

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Notes: Polling was run on the Focaldata platform. Data was collected from a nationally representative sample of 10,018 adults between 11th and 20th April 2022.   

Media contact: Sally Ivens, senior media manager, HSI/UK: 

Campaigners urge Romania to become 20th country in Europe to ban cruel fur farming

Humane Society International / Europe

HSI in Romania

BUCHAREST, Romania—Romania is being urged to become the 20th country in Europe to ban fur farming following revelations from an undercover investigation by Humane Society International/Europe which uncovers serious animal welfare concerns. Following discussion with HSI/Europe, deputies from the National Liberal Party have submitted a bill to Parliament to ban mink and chinchilla fur farming, and HSI/Europe has submitted its dossier of investigation evidence to Romania’s Prime Minister Nicolae Ciucă with a formal request for the government to introduce a national fur farming ban.

In the first ever exposé of chinchilla fur farms in Romania, filming by HSI/Europe reveals animals confined in small, filthy, wire mesh cages stacked three or four on top of each other, in windowless “farm” rooms, with piles of excrement accumulating under each cage. Baby chinchillas are seen struggling to walk on the wire cage floor, their legs slipping through the mesh, and adult chinchillas are filmed frantically chewing at the bars.

Chinchillas were housed individually (except when rearing young) despite being highly social creatures, and provided just a fraction of their species’ natural range in the wild—they can jump as high as one metre, and horizontally up to two metres. HSI’s investigator was told females are forced into a cycle of almost perpetual pregnancy, which can start again just several hours after giving birth. Fur farms employ an unnatural and likely stressful polygamous breeding system which allows the same male to have access to, and breed with, up to 10 females who are fitted with neck braces or collars to prevent them escaping their own cage during mating. Several fur farmers were also filmed holding chinchillas upside down by the tail, a practice that goes against veterinary advice due to the risk of tail snapping.

The investigation breaks as across Europe, EU citizens in their thousands are signing a European Citizens Initiative calling for an EU-wide ban on fur farming. The ECI must achieve one million signatures to trigger a response from the European Commission.

Andreea Roseti, Romania country director for Humane Society International/Europe, said: “This investigation provides shocking evidence of the deprivation these animals are suffering in Romania for the fur industry. Such cruelty brings shame on Romania and we hope that our investigation marks the beginning of the end for the fur industry here. I am sure that most Romanian citizens will be horrified to learn that hidden from view, thousands of gentle chinchillas are suffering in silence for the sake of frivolous fur fashion items that nobody needs. There is no future in fur farming in a modern, compassionate society. That is why 19 countries across Europe have fully banned the practice.

We are calling on Romania’s Prime Minister Ciucă to act swiftly with a comprehensive ban on fur farming of all species, to stop this atrocious suffering in the name of fashion. Top designers and manufacturers across the globe are shunning fur, and soon we hope the fur industry will be consigned to the history books. This is Romania’s chance to be on the right side of history.”

Unlike mink fur farming where animals are housed in rows of cages in field units in rural areas, chinchilla farming in Romania typically takes place in a room or even a basement of a building in more residential areas. The deprived conditions HSI/Europe found, fail to meet the very basic Five Freedoms of animal welfare as well as the requirements of Council Directive 98/58/EC. HSI’s investigation also raises questions about the methods used to kill chinchillas in Romania. A number of the fur farmers told HSI’s investigator that they break the animals’ neck, a practice not listed as an authorised killing method for chinchillas (Council Regulation (EC) No. 1099/2009). One fur farmer showed the investigator his homemade gas chamber he had constructed using a pressure cooker, and another revealed chinchilla carcasses stored in a freezer.

Professor Alastair MacMillan, a veterinary consultant who viewed the footage, said: “The factory farm style caging in which these chinchillas are forced to exist, piled high floor to ceiling, fails to meet almost every measure of the internationally recognised Five Freedoms of Animal Welfare. Chinchillas are naturally very sociable animals, yet on these fur farms they are kept in solitary caging. They have a strong desire to run, jump, burrow, forage for food and regularly take sand baths, and yet their tiny cages with only the very minimum of enrichment, means they are unable to exhibit these natural behaviours to any meaningful extent, which must cause them significant frustration and psychological distress. Having to stand for long periods on wire mesh floor will cause pain and injury to their delicate feet and is clearly a physical challenge for the young kits. Cervical dislocation—breaking the animal’s neck—is an entirely unsuitable method of killing chinchillas, and if these animals are routinely being killed this way, as some of the fur farmers admit, that will surely be an horrific end to a miserable life.”

HSI’s analysis shows that a fur farming ban in Romania would have minimal economic impact because the industry has been in considerable decline for some time. Farmers told HSI’s investigator that pelt prices had fallen steeply from 40 euros to 25 euros each, and that the farming of chinchillas was not economically viable as a full-time occupation. One chinchilla farmer commented that in the past he was producing 4,000 pelts a year, but now it is closer to 1,500 pelts. In 2013, Romania produced 200,000 mink, 30,000 chinchilla and 2,000 fox pelts, exporting 1,585,098 euros worth of fur garments. In 2021 the value of exports dropped to just 762,359 euros and recent statistics show pelt production halved to 100,000 mink and 15,000 chinchilla. Financial information seen by the investigator shows that Romania’s two remaining mink farms reported zero profits every year from 2014 to 2021 and employ just 46 people at the farms.

Although the fur market is in decline, chinchilla fur items still come with a high price tag. A chinchilla fur lined coat by Yves Salomon retails at Harrods in the UK for £12,600. Spanish homeware website Dentro Home, which ships to the UK, is selling a chinchilla throw for 124,950 euros. Chinchilla fur is also used by Fendi and Loro Piana.

Fur facts:

  • More than 100 million animals are killed for their fur every year worldwide—that is equivalent to three animals dying every second, just for their fur.
  • Fur farming has been banned in 19 European countries, including Malta, Ireland, Estonia, France, Italy and most recently on 22nd September 2022, Latvia. Political discussions on a ban are also underway in Lithuania, Spain and Poland. A further two countries (Switzerland, Germany) have implemented such strict regulations that fur farming has effectively ended, and three other countries (Denmark, Sweden, Hungary) have imposed measures that have ended the farming of certain species.
  • In Denmark, only 1% of fur farmers applied for state aid to re-start business if the temporary fur farming ban is lifted after December 2022. Mink farming is also being phased out in the Canadian province of British Colombia. The UK was the first country in the world to ban fur farming, in 2003.
  • Outbreaks of COVID-19 have been documented on over 480 mink fur farms in 12 different countries in Europe and North America since April 2020. Fur also comes with a hefty environmental price tag including C02 emissions from intensively farming carnivorous animals, the manure runoff into lakes and rivers, and the cocktail of toxic and carcinogenic chemicals, such as chromium and formaldehyde, used to preserve the fur and skin to stop it from rotting.
  • An increasing number of fashion designers and retailers are dropping fur cruelty. In the last few years alone, Canada Goose, Oscar de la Renta, Valentino, Gucci, Burberry, Versace, Chanel, Prada and other high-profile brands have announced fur-free policies.

Download video and photos from the investigation


Media contact: Wendy Higgins, director of international media:

Notes: filming took place between April and October 2021 at four chinchilla fur farms in Transylvania, as well as neighboring regions to the north and south.

HSI/Europe welcomes Italian Exhibition Group’s decision todiscontinue HIT Show for its incompatibility with environmental values

Humane Society International / Europe

Trophy hunting “Not In My World” action in Rome, Italy, on October 20th, 2021.

VICENZA, Italy —Martina Pluda, director for Italy at Humane Society International/Europe, states the following regarding the announcement by IEG Italian Exhibition Group SpA to discontinue HIT Show, the hunting fair:

“I welcome the decision by IEG Italian Exhibition Group SpA to no longer organize HIT Show, Italy’s largest hunting fair that had  40,000 visitors and hundreds of international exhibitors per year. According to research by Humane Society International/Europe, many outfitters offered trophy hunting trips targeting protected species. In their statement, the company that runs the Vicenza exhibit hall stressed the incompatibility of this event with environmental values and its own mission. Public opinion is consistent with that view. In fact, according to an HSI/Europe poll, 86% of Italians surveyed oppose trophy hunting of all wild animals.

Trophy hunters from the European Union kill thousands of wild animals worldwide, including endangered or threatened species, with Italy being a major trophy destination. In addition to the cruelty and loss of animals who could contribute to a diverse gene pool while the world is facing a biodiversity crisis, it is irresponsible to allow wealthy elites to shoot endangered species for pure pleasure and to promote this practice as a recreational activity. Hunting shows are an important yet disgraceful showcase for outfitters who offer the opportunity to hunt lions, elephants, hippos and many other species for several thousand euros on macabre price lists. The divestment by IEG of the HIT Show is a strong blow to the industry and a clear signal.

Shooting, stuffing, packing and receiving dead animals and their body parts and displaying them in their homes motivates these hunters. An import ban on trophies in more EU countries would effectively help stop the killing of these animals. Already since the last legislature, HSI/Europe’s #NotInMyWorld campaign has been calling for Italy to introduce a ban on the import, export and re-export of hunting trophies obtained from internationally protected species. With the submission of a bill on this issue we have taken the first step. I trust that the next government will want to work to achieve this goal together with us and the Italian people, once and for all.”


  • Between 2014 and 2020, Italy imported 437 hunting trophies from internationally protected species such as hippos, elephants, lions, leopards, cheetahs, brown bears and polar bears.
  • Notably, Italy was one of five countries to have imported at least one critically endangered black rhino trophy.
  • According to a survey commissioned by HSI/Europe to Savanta ComRes, 86% of Italians surveyed oppose trophy hunting of all wild animals, 88% agree that Italians should not be allowed to import hunting trophies from other countries, and 74% support a total ban on the export and import of dead animal trophies to and from Italy.
  • A petition launched by HSI/Europe in Italy has already collected more than 45,000 signatures.


Media contact: Martina Pluda, HSI in Italy’s country director:; 3714120885


Animal protection groups release new report urging legal loopholes be closed

Humane Society International / Europe

Errey Images/

BRUSSELS/Munich—The European Union continues to be a main hub and destination for stolen wildlife from Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Oceania. A new report released today by Pro Wildlife, Humane Society International and International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), Stolen Wildlife: The EU—a destination for wildlife traffickers, exposes European complicity in this illegal trade. EU citizens are not only involved in the smuggling of nationally protected wildlife, but helping to perpetuate the market for these animals.

While the European Union is one of the biggest importers of animals destined for the exotic pet trade, only a very small fraction of the species in this trade are actually covered by international and/or EU legislation. However, many species in trade, which are protected in non-EU countries under domestic legislation, have nonetheless been caught in the wild and exported in violation of the country of origin’s national law. This is the case with the Philippine sailfin lizard and the glass frog species from Latin America, popular targets in the exotic trade at present.

Dr. Sandra Altherr, Head of Science at Pro Wildlife, says: “In their quest to own unique wild animals, wealthy exotic pet keepers in Europe are driving the global trafficking of rare species. Wildlife smugglers are openly selling illegally acquired animals at European trade shows in the full knowledge that they can get away with it because of the loopholes in the EU legislation. With each rare lizard fetching up to thousands of Euros, big money can be made with virtually no legal risks.”

Ilaria Silvestre, Head of EU Policy & Campaigns at IFAW says: “The Internet is a major channel for directly connecting traders and clients from all over the world. It is the ideal platform for criminal animal traders. The online trafficking of protected species, which is partly fuelled by the promotion of exotic pet ownership and interactions on social media, poses a huge challenge for enforcement authorities. Illegal wildlife trade, both online and in physical markets, is increasingly targeting rare wild species that are not protected by the EU legislation, and this is a contributor to the catastrophic biodiversity loss seen globally.”

Dr. Joanna Swabe, senior director of public affairs for Humane Society International/Europe says: “It is time for the EU to act. Its recent Biodiversity Strategy to 2030 shared many good words about halting global biodiversity loss. Now it must turn those words into concrete deeds. The European Commission will soon deliver its revised Action Plan Against Wildlife Trafficking. This is a golden opportunity  to tackle this form of illegal wildlife trade and to develop supplementary legislation to criminalise the trade in wildlife  taken for the pet trade in violation of other country’s laws.”

Stolen Wildlife: The EU—a destination for wildlife traffickers provides detailed case studies from Cuba, Brazil, Morocco, South Africa and the Philippines, it also provides an overview of attempts made by range states to protect their unique biodiversity, for example, by tabling several proposals for the upcoming CITES Conference of Parties meeting in Panama to restrict the international trade in their endemic species.

The three animal and wildlife protection organisations are calling for EU  action to introduce a law to prohibit the import, sale, purchase and possession of wildlife that has been illegally sourced in its country of origin. This demand has also been repeatedly backed by the European Parliament over the past few years, in several adopted resolutions that urge the European Commission to deliver such legislation.

Download the Full Report


Media contacts:

Humane Society International / Europe

Sign the ECI petition to demand an EU ban on fur farming and import of fur products

Humane Society International / Europe

Each year, more than 100 million animals, such as mink, foxes, chinchilla and raccoon dogs, are kept and then killed for their fur around the world. They spend their short, miserable lives in small and barren metal cages, where they cannot exhibit their natural behaviour and can suffer from disease, wounds, self-mutilation and even cannibalism. The European Union is one of the largest producers and importers of fur, with more than 18 million animals killed for their fur in 2020. Although 14 EU member states have imposed full bans on fur production, fur farming is still legal in a number of countries and the import and sale of fur and fur products within the union and from third countries is not restricted.

HSI/Europe, together with more than 70 other organisations, has launched the “Fur-Free Europe” European Citizens’ Initiative to demand an EU-ban on fur farming and import of fur products. Once we reach 1 million validated signatures, the European Commission is obliged to deliver a formal response.

Act now: Sign the petition

Why should fur farming and the sale of fur products be banned?

Cruel and unethical

The vast majority of animals farmed for their fur are essentially wild and keeping them in small cages causes unbearable stress and suffering, as they are not able to express their natural behaviour. Mink, for example, are extremely active and solitary animals, ranging over large territories, including lakes and rivers. In a small cage of mesh wire they are forced to live with other animals and cannot exhaust their excessive energy. All this can result in self-mutilations, infected wounds, cannibalism, and stress-related repetitive behaviours. Mink also need access to water to swim and hunt, this is not available to the animals kept on intensive fur factory farms. Foxes and raccoon dogs can similarly suffer from stress related conditions on fur farms. The confinement in small cages is detrimental for other farmed species, such as chinchilla who are also unable to fulfil their basic needs such as jumping, burrowing and regularly sand bathing. In addition, the methods of killing of animals farmed for their fur are far from humane and acceptable – mink are usually killed by gassing, foxes and raccoon dogs are anally electrocuted and chinchilla are killed by gassing, electrocution or, in some cases even neck breaking.

Although public opinion polls show a growing concern about the welfare of animals in fur farms, and politicians in many countries have already taken action to ban fur farming, current EU legislation is not able to address the inherent welfare issues associated with this industry and investigations consistently point to violations of animal welfare on fur farms across Europe.

Threatening to environment and biodiversity

Fur farming can have a deadly effect on the environment and European biodiversity. Local water and soil can be polluted from fur factory farms. On top of this, some of the species kept in farms are considered invasive alien species capable of causing severe impact on biodiversity. American mink, who are often reported to escape from fur farms, can affect no less than 47 native European species, including six who are threatened with extinction.

Public health ticking bomb

Quite a few of the chemicals used in the fur industry for bleaching, processing and dyeing are potential skin irritants. More than 45 chemicals or groups of chemicals associated with the dressing and processing of fur have been identified as hazardous agents. The use of toxic metals is of particular concern, since they are non-biodegradable and accumulate in the body.

During the coronavirus pandemic, it was discovered that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, can jump back and forth between humans and farmed American mink, the main species kept for fur in Europe, while at the same time mutating and potentially having the ability to undermine the efficacy of vaccines, creating public health concerns about the role fur farms could play as dangerous reservoirs for the disease. Since April 2020, mink on more than 480 fur farms across the globe have contracted COVID-19.

Is this relevant for my country?

Mink, foxes, chinchillas and raccoon dogs are kept in farms across the EU for their fur. Despite the closing down of a large number of enterprises in the EU, predominantly in Denmark and the Netherlands, following the SARS-CoV-2 epidemics in mink farms, as of December 2020 there were still more than 750 mink farms operating, located mostly in Finland, Poland, Lithuania and Greece. Approximately 18 million fur pelts were produced in the European Union in 2020.

Although fur farming is fully banned in 13 EU member states, the Union remains one of the biggest global producers of fur and at the same time a big importer of fur products. In 2019 the EU member states exported a staggering 8112 tonnes of fur skins of mink and foxes and imported 854 tonnes. In spite of the coronavirus pandemic affecting the industry and trade in general, the numbers remain huge – 4597 tonnes of fur skins exported from the EU and 213 tonnes imported.

What is a European Citizens’ Initiative?

Unlike common online petitions, The European Citizens’ Initiative is the most effective way for EU citizens to call on the government of the EU – the European Commission – to propose new laws. Once an initiative has reached 1 million validated signatures, the European Commission is obliged to respond.

In order to have a signature validated, the Initiative requires citizens to provide some personal data, which will only be used for the support of this Initiative, and not for other purposes and will be deleted once the Initiative is over and all signatures are validated. Fur Free Europe is following all legal requirements, GDPR and data protection rules.

European Citizens’ Initiative reaches over one million signatures

Humane Society International / Europe


BRUSSELS—For the second time in seven years, more than one million people across the European Union have called for an end to animal testing by signing a European Citizens’ Initiative.  Introduced by the Treaty of Lisbon in 2007 to facilitate participation by EU citizens in policy development, ECIs are an established and respected participatory democracy mechanism to which the European Commission is required to respond within six months.

As the deadline for signatures passed at 23:59 yesterday, 1,414,383 people had signed the latest ECI calling for the European Commission to end the cruel use of animals in cosmetics and chemicals tests, as well as an ambitious plan to bring all experiments on animals to an end.

More than 10 million animals each year are used in laboratories around Europe for research and testing procedures that can cause them agonizing pain and suffering. This includes cruel and needless re-testing of cosmetic chemicals at the behest of the European Chemicals Agency, contrary to the EU’s longstanding ban on animal testing for cosmetics.

The Save Cruelty Free Cosmetics ECI was launched by a coalition of animal protection organizations including Cruelty Free Europe, PETA, Eurogroup for Animals, Humane Society International/Europe, and the European Coalition to End Animal Experiments, is supported by global beauty and personal care companies Dove, The  Body Shop, Lush, Herbal Essences, Aussie and is actively promoted by a coalition of groups and campaigners from every corner of Europe.

Joanna Swabe, senior director of public affairs for Humane Society International/Europe, said: “We are delighted that more than a million EU citizens have added their voices to the call to save cruelty-free cosmetics. It is a travesty that the landmark legislation banning cosmetic tests on animals has been undermined by EU authorities who continue to exploit a loophole in the legislation and demand that animal tests are carried out on ingredients used in lipsticks and eyeshadow. Not least because there are so many non-animal methods to ensure the protection of consumers and workers who are exposed to these chemicals, as well the environment.”

Aviva Vetter, Humane Society International senior manager for cosmetics, added: “This European Citizens’ Initiative is a wake-up call to EU institutions that continued erosion of the EU’s cruelty-free commitment will not be allowed to stand. Moreover, the European Commission must come forward with substantive legislative proposals to phase out  animal  experiments,  end  the  suffering  of millions of animals in laboratories.”

Vetter continued: “We are incredibly proud of this collaborative landmark and look forward to successful validation of the signatures. European citizens have made the task for the European Commission clear: it must come forward with substantive legislative proposals to phase out all animal experiments and end the suffering of millions of animals in laboratories in Europe. We demand change in testing and research. It is time for Europe to evolve past cruel and outdated animal testing.”

The organizers of the initiative now have three months to submit signatures to member state competent authorities for validation before they can take it to the European Commission and Parliament for action. To date, only six ECIs out of a total of 90 that have been registered have successfully completed this validation stage; a further four are currently in the validation phase. To have attracted 1,413, 383 signatures is a strong signal that this ECI could join them.

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International animal charity and global airline association publish guidance to get cats and dogs to safety in times of crisis

Humane Society International / Europe


BRUSSELS — Animal protection organisation Humane Society International has collaborated with the International Air Transport Association to publish a list of considerations for governments and the air transport supply chain to facilitate the safe passage of pet cats and dogs in times of crisis who are evacuating or taking refuge with their owners.

The considerations are based on the IATA Live Animals Regulations publication which is the global standard for transporting animals by air in a safe and humane manner.

Considerations include:

  • Introducing flexibility in documentation requirements —governments relaxing veterinary travel paperwork requirements for dogs, cats and other companion animals.
  • Assessing ground storage facilities —airport communities identifying additional storage facilities that are compliant with the requirement for the safety of live animals.
  • Providing additional information —stakeholders evaluating communications materials to provide clear and consistent information to pet owners across all customer service channels including call centers, email, chat and social media channels.
  • Collaborating with pet shipping companies and crate manufacturers —airport communities seeking the help of these entities to make available additional live animal transport containers (cabin and hold) at major departure points.

Katherine Polak, vice president of companion animals and engagement at Humane Society International and member of the IATA Companion Animal Temporary Task Force, said: “In times of crisis, the importance of keeping pets and people together can’t be understated. The special bond we have with our much-loved animal companions is highly important, and during conflicts and crises they provide comfort and a sense of stability for those who have been through so much. HSI’s pet relief aid work with Ukrainian refugees showed the lengths that people will go to in order to get their animals to safety. So, we are incredibly proud to collaborate with IATA to help ensure refugees are able to take their beloved four-legged family members with them, so that no matter what the conflict or crisis, wherever in the world, pets and their people can stay together.”

Brendan Sullivan, IATA’s global head of cargo said: “Aviation is a critical first responder in crises situations. The humanitarian response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was no different. Aviation helped people flee to safety and delivered humanitarian aid, and airlines with operations on the front line of the crisis recognized the importance of helping families stay united with their pets. Airlines on the frontline of the crisis —KLM, LOT Polish Airlines and Bulgaria Air —were leaders among airlines introducing measures to help those taking refuge bring their pets with them. The European Commission also addressed the issue by advising all EU member states to relax veterinary paperwork requirements for the dogs, cats and other companion animals traveling with refugees. Through our work with HSI we have learned from this experience and the industry will be even better prepared for future crises.”


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