Major Clothing Retailers Halting Angora Production After PETA Expose

(3BL Media/JustMeans) A People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) video shows rabbits having their fur ripped off and screaming in pain. The video, a result of an undercover investigation, is having a big impact in the fashion world. Well known retailers have announced that they are halting the production of angora products. Those retailers include H&M, Gap, Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, IZOD, ARROW, Van Heusen, Marks & Spencer, and Esprit. 
The investigation included nine angora farms in China, which is the source of 90 percent of the world’s supply of angora fur. No penalties for animal abuse exist in China, and regulation of rabbit farms is also lacking. The video revealed that cruelty is inherent in the process of Chinese angora production. The process includes rabbits having their front and back legs tied. Hundreds of rabbits are crammed into cages where they remain during their lifetime. They are only removed every two months to have their fur ripped off. After having their fur ripped off, the rabbits’ skin is red and they are in shock as they are put into tiny wire cages which harm their feet. The majority of them don’t live beyond three years old and if they do live, many of them are killed by having their throats slit. As many as 50 million rabbits live in these conditions. 
PETA released the video the week before Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year. The timing was on purpose. As PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman said, “PETA is appealing to shoppers this holiday season.” Reiman urged consumers to read labels on sweaters and scarf, and if angora is listed on the labels “leave the item on the rack.”
Since PETA released the video, companies have released statements about halting production of angora products. H&M, which is in 43 countries, stated on November 27, that it will “immediately stop the production of all angora products until we have secured that our strict Product Policy is being followed.” The clothing retailer also stated that it “doesn’t accept that animals are treated badly” because the company only allows “products made of angora rabbit hair from farms with good animal husbandry.” H&M will “accelerate” inspections of its sub-suppliers and is allowing customers to return angora products bought at one of its stores for a “full refund.”
Esprit announced on November 29 that the international fashion brand, which is in over 40 countries, “stopped sourcing angora wool” until “control and transparency can be obtained in the angora wool supply chain that assures proper animal husbandry.” Charles Dickinson, Esprit’s Head of Global Quality Management & Sustainability, made it very clear that the company “does not accept methods such as live plucking within its production.” Dickinson believes that a brand has the responsibility “to maintain a compliant supply chain and to take appropriate action if one of the stakeholders fails to adhere to the standards.”
Gap Inc. is the latest company to announce it will halt production of angora products, and it made the announcement via Twitter. The company tweeted: “We're suspending placement of orders using angora & investigating further. We take animal welfare seriously. Thanks for speaking up.” Gap Inc. owns brands that include Gap, Old Navy, and Banana Republic, and has a global presence. 
Photo: vjmarisphotos
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PETA is alleged to have staged some of its 'under-cover' videos. PETA's own hands are dirty: see "PETA kills animals."

I have doubts that the PETA video represents even as much as ten percent of Chinese Angora fiber producers, because that mistreatment of the animals would be so counter-productive. I contacted this company for their opinion, and they replied that they think 90% of Chinese Angora is produced ethically.

Here is a very informative website of a company based in Turkey that is owned by twin sisters, that makes yarn and garments from Angora fiber: repconintl (dot) com

Here is a video about Angora production in France: La filiere transformation laine lapin angora français

Here is an alternative view of Chinese Angora farming: search for "wild fibers summer 2011"

Methods of removing the fiber from the animals vary from shearing with scissors or electric clippers, to plucking the fur from them when they molt. French producers give the rabbits a feed that causes them to molt the same way if they molt naturally, to facilitate painless, trauma free plucking. It is possible that the rabbit in the PETA video had been given the depiltory feed, but that the worker was paid to roughly and prematurely rip out the fur.

Some commercial producers who remove the fiber by shearing may tether the rabbits. While tethering may appear, at first glance, to be inhumane, when done correctly it reduces potential stress and harm to the rabbit.

Angora rabbits MUST have their wool removed at regular intervals, or they will become so matted and felted that they are incapacitated. Angora rabbits are truly lovely, sweet animals, having necessarily been selected for pleasant temperaments. They don't make good pets for the general public, because their labor intensive care requires ongoing commitment.

The PETA video has caused harm to come in the form of loss of business for many people all around the world, even if they have never harmed any rabbit at all, "While the public have been quick to criticize, business insiders and zoologists argue that the cruelty only exists on a small number of farms and is not typical of rabbit husbandry practices in China."

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