TOWIE’s Pete Wicks wells up with emotion as he goes undercover with HSI/UK at Finnish fur farms to expose cruelty

Pete urges fans to ditch fur, calls for UK fur sales ban after witnessing dead animals, tiny fox cubs and horrifically injured mink suffering on fur farms

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


LONDON–A new undercover investigation by TV’s Pete Wicks and animal charity Humane Society International/UK reveals deplorable conditions and distressing animal suffering on fur farms in Finland, a country that exports millions of pounds worth of fur to the UK. The investigation by HSI/UK in partnership with Finnish animal protection organisation Oikeutta Eläimille found tiny fox cubs struggling to walk across wire mesh cage floors, dead mink and foxes, and animals suffering from untreated wounds including a live mink whose head was partially cannibalised by cage mates. 

Pete Wicks recorded an emotionally-charged video for his fans showing footage from the farm. Pete told fans that fur farms are “far worse than I ever imagined,” and called the fur trade “cruel and disgusting.” Pete asked his followers not to buy fur, and shared HSI’s petition calling on the British government to ban fur sales in the UK.

Pete’s video and additional footage and images from from the investigation can be seen here.

If you are interested in interviewing Pete please contact Harriet Barclay, HBarclay@hsi.org 

The UK banned fur farming in 2000 on ethical grounds, but since then has allowed imports of more than £820 million worth of fur from overseas, including Finland. Since the ban the UK imported more than £14 million worth of fur from Finland, and HM Revenue and Customs figures also show sizeable imports from a range of other countries such as Italy, France, Poland, China and Russia. In 2019 so far fur imports to the UK total £25.7million, including over £2.5million from China alone. Finland is by far the biggest ‘producer’ of fox fur in Europe, rearing and electrocuting around 2.5 million foxes every year for the global fur trade; only China farms more foxes globally.

The fur trade claims that the majority of fur farms in Finland are so-called ‘high welfare’, so HSI campaigners took celebrity supporter Pete Wicks to Finland to see for themselves. They found distressing animal suffering across all 13 of the fur farms visited between April and October 2019, with Pete accompanying them to two of those farms.

Pete Wicks said “Despite having seen lots of fur farm footage, nothing could have prepared me for the suffering I saw when I investigated fur farms in Finland with HSI/UK. It was sickening, I really don’t believe that anyone who has seen the state of these poor animals – terrified and trapped in tiny cages – would ever wear fur again. It is great that the UK banned fur farming, but it doesn’t make sense that we’re still selling fur from farms like the ones I visited in Finland.  So I hope this new footage will help HSI/UK’s #FurFreeBritain campaign persuade politicians that fur cruelty should be banned from UK shop shelves.”

Finland is by far the biggest ‘producer’ of fox fur in Europe, rearing and electrocuting around 2.5 million foxes every year for the global fur trade; only China farms more foxes globally. UK fur imports are a double standard that HSI/UK through its #FurFreeBritain campaign is urging the government to address by introducing a ban on UK fur sales.

Claire Bass, executive director of Humane Society International/UK, who investigated the fur farms, said: “We saw a few hundred of the millions of foxes and mink trapped in miles of battery cages in Finland. These poor young animals exist only as vessels for their fur, as broken and tormented souls. We saw weeping eye infections, infected wounds, dead cubs and cannibalism; all of this suffering to provide a frivolous product that the fashion industry does not need. It’s important for consumers, designers and politicians to see that awful reality laid bare, that despite what the fur trade tries to portray on catwalks there is nothing glamorous about fur. As long as the UK allows British businesses to trade in fur, we are complicit in the cruelty. Britain was the first country in the world to ban fur farming, now it’s time for us  to finish the job and become the first country in the world to ban fur sales too.”  

Kristo Muurimaa of Finnish animal protection organisation Oikeutta Elaimille, who accompanied HSI/UK on the fur farm visits, and visited additional Finnish farms, said: “During my work as an investigator, I have visited almost a hundred fur farms in Finland and other countries. Sadly, the appalling things we witnessed on the investigation with HSI/UK are far from the exception. Small, barren cages and suffering of the animals are the norm in the fur industry.

HSI’s petition calling for the UK government to ban UK fur sales can be signed here: www.hsi.org/FurFreeBritain

Fur facts:

  • In 2016 the value of fur imported into the UK was £55.6 million. A provisional estimate of the number of animal skins that equates to in that year is approximately 2,000,000.
  • Britain imports and sells the fur of a variety of species, including fox, rabbit, mink, coyote, raccoon dog and chinchilla. Fur imports from dogs, cats and commercial seal hunts are banned across the EU, and HSI wants those existing bans extended to protect all fur-bearing species.
  • Britain imports and sells the fur of a variety of species, including fox, rabbit, mink, coyote, raccoon dog and chinchilla. Fur imports from dogs, cats and commercial seal hunts are banned across the EU, and HSI wants those existing bans extended to protect all fur-bearing species.
  • Since the United Kingdom banned fur farming on ethical grounds in 2000, more than a dozen countries in Europe, including Austria, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands and Norway, have legislated against the practice. The government in Ireland agreed, in June this year, to phase out fur farming and draft legislation to end the practice has also been presented to the parliaments of both Bulgaria and Slovakia this autumn. Several cities in the United States, including San Francisco, West Hollywood and Los Angeles have all introduced fur sales bans and a bill to outlaw the sale and manufacture of new fur products across the state of California was passed last week.
  • In addition to the physical and psychological torment of being confined in small, barren cages for the animals’ entire lives, the killing methods typically used on fur farms are equally distressing. Mink are killed by gassing, and fox and raccoon dogs are killed by anal electrocution.
  • An increasing number of fashion designers and retailers are dropping fur cruelty. In the last two years alone Prada, Gucci, Versace, Michael Kors, Jimmy Choo, DKNY, Burberry, Chanel and other high-profile brands have announced fur-free policies. In addition, online fashion retail platforms Net-A-Porter and Farfetch have introduced no-fur policies.

Media contact:

HSI UK: Harriet Barclay, HBarclay@hsi.org, office: 02039767962, mobile: 07794354596

 

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