A sweet picture, the one on the left, isn’t it. A mink, a young mother with her baby, both alive and happy within their skin.
And the one below on the right? Not so sweet in my eyes; rather, the guy looks foppish and ridiculous. But what really gets to me is the fact that it took hundreds of specimens like the little creature here to make the coat the gentleman is wearing. Hundreds and hundreds of mink who were born in captivity and killed after about six months.
They’re being raised on farms, and “are among the world’s best cared-for animals,” enjoying “good nutrition, comfortable housing and prompt veterinary care” — as a website appropriately called American Legend claims (note: the website has been redesigned, and any reference to mink being living creatures has been removed; their fur might as well grow on trees). A notice in the SPIEGEL about roughly 7,500 mink that escaped from a farm in Germany prompted me to take a closer look at the facts and legends of mink farming.
This release of factory-farmed animals isn’t an isolated event; typically, the perpetrators are animal rights activists who’re being called every name in the book from “common criminal” to “terrorist”. Reversely, those who stand up to protect the minks, foxes, rabbits, and other creatures from being turned into fashion statements, talk about the animals’ suffering and cruel treatment, inhumane living conditions, and painful and gruesome killing methods among a long list of atrocities.
I was piqued by the comment of one mink farmer who was concerned that some of the liberated animals would die — they might get run over by cars, they don’t know how to survive in the wild, etc. Wouldn’t they get killed one way or another? Why worry about their survival if they’d hardly reach a ripe old age anyway? My research uncovered some not necessarily surprising, but peculiar factors. Most of all, I was struck by the diametrically opposite terms being used to describe the same fact or event. Take the above question about the life span of a mink for example. Except for the few that are kept for breeding, they’ll live for about six months before — in the words of the mink farm industry — they’re being harvested using humane methods of euthanasia: “When harvest time comes around, a mobile unit is brought to the animals’ cages to eliminate stress that might be caused by transporting them long distances. This mobile unit includes a specially designed airtight container which has been prefilled with gas. The animals are placed inside and immediately rendered unconscious, dying quickly and humanely [text has been removed from above website].” In the case of foxes, lethal injection is being used, while smaller animals such as chinchillas die by electrocution. All of these “harvesting” techniques are painless and instant, according to the Fur Commission USA.
Other people and organizations call these practices gruesome, cruel, and painful. The State of New York recently banned the electrocution of animals for fur because it is so callous and barbaric, the Humane Society of the United States reports. While fur farmers claim that the animals live in spacous cages and are happy, PeTA states that the cramped space drives them crazy — mink are solitary animals who may occupy up to 2,500 acres of wetland habitat in the wild. Of course it’s no surprise that fur farmers are against fake fur, but instead of honestly declaring that money is their main interest, they pretend concern about the environment and maintain that it (fake fur) is “not natural”. On the other side are the defenders of wildlife with a long list of poisonous chemicals that have to be used in order to make the fur skins permanent and glossy.
I’ve no idea what kind of people would believe the lies of the fur industry. Judging from the poor sap in the picture above, the kind of people who avoid critical thinking because it’s too painful.