Welfare group reports serious violations at Romanian fur farms

SIGHISOARA, Romania (AP) — In a seedy basement, chinchillas bred to supply their fur for the fashion industry bite the wire of cages stacked floor to ceiling with no natural light, as their babies struggle on the metal mesh floors.

The scene captured on video is part of the findings of a secret investigation into conditions at chinchilla fur farms in Romania, carried out last year by animal welfare charity Humane Society International.

HSI said it…

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SIGHISOARA, Romania (AP) — In a seedy basement, chinchillas bred to supply their fur for the fashion industry bite the wire of cages stacked floor to ceiling with no natural light, as their babies struggle on the metal mesh floors.

The scene captured on video is part of the findings of a secret investigation into conditions at chinchilla fur farms in Romania, carried out last year by animal welfare charity Humane Society International.

HSI said it uncovered cruel and allegedly illegal practices and called on Romanian Prime Minister Nicolae Ciuca to completely ban fur farming in the Eastern European country.

On Wednesday, the charity formally submitted a report of its findings – exclusively seen by The Associated Press – to Ciuca, urging him to “stop this excruciating suffering in the name of fashion”.

HSI investigators who examined 11 chinchilla farms in different regions of Romania said some farmers told them they killed the animals by breaking their necks – a practice that contravenes authorized killing methods for chinchillas. by European Union law.

Chinchillas are a very social rodent species native to South America and valued for their soft, silky fur.

“This investigation provides shocking evidence of the deprivation these animals suffer in Romania for the fur industry,” said Andreea Roseti, HSI Country Manager for Romania. “Such cruelty puts Romania to shame and we hope our investigation will mark the beginning of the end for the fur industry here.”

A fur-farmer allegedly showed an HSI investigator a homemade gas chamber – a sinister method of killing allowed under EU law – which had been constructed “using a pressure cooker”. The group also said female chinchillas are kept in near-permanent pregnancy cycles, during which they are forced to wear a “neck brace or rigid collar” to prevent them from escaping during mating.

In response to HSI’s investigation, a group of Romanian lawmakers tabled a bill in parliament on Monday calling for a ban on the breeding and killing of animals solely for their fur. It was signed by five lawmakers from the center-right National Liberal Party.

It’s a push for Romania, an EU member since 2007, to “align with EU law” and join other bloc members who have already introduced such bans, lawmakers said. .

Gheorghe Pecingina, the MP behind the proposal, told The Associated Press it was important the “cruel” practice ended now because chinchillas “are being killed with barbaric methods” in Romania.

Prime Minister Ciuca’s office and the Association of Romanian Leather and Fur Producers did not immediately respond to AP requests for comment.

Last week Latvian lawmakers voted to change legislation to ban fur farms, making Latvia the 15th of 27 EU countries to shut down the industry.

“There’s no possibility that animal life or anything related to those animals is acceptable in fur farming,” HSI’s Roseti said. “These animals are only bred for their fur which is used for fashion…that’s no reason to keep (them) in these conditions and kill them.”

Fur Free Europe, a European citizens’ initiative supported by dozens of animal welfare organizations and registered by the European Commission in March, is launching a petition calling for an EU-wide ban on fur farms and trade in fur products on the bloc market. . It has garnered over 377,000 signatures so far.

“This is an opportunity for Romania to be on the right side of history,” Roseti said.

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