(Photo: Ken Gillespie/Getty Images)

Cruel Practices on Spanish Rabbit Fur Farms Caught on Tape

A two-year investigation reveals horrifying treatment of rabbits allegedly supplied to top fashion designers.
Sep 11, 2014· 1 MIN READ
John R. Platt covers the environment, wildlife, and technology and for TakePart, Scientific American, Audubon, and other publications.

Rabbits with oozing wounds and horrible deformities. Newborn animals strangled in front of their parents, and sick adults smashed against walls until they stop moving. Cages caked with layer upon layer of excrement.

These are just a few of the horrifying images captured during a two-year investigation of rabbit fur farms in Spain, which, animal rights groups allege, supply some of the world’s top fashion designers.

Marc Jacobs, Diane von Furstenberg, Burberry, Christian Dior, Giorgio Armani, Yves Saint Laurent, and Louis Vuitton are a handful of the names suspected of buying fur from some 40 farms surveyed during the undercover investigation, the details of which were released to coincide with Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, taking place this week in New York City.

Representatives for Marc Jacobs, Diane von Furstenberg, and Giorgio Armani did not respond to requests for comment.

“These farms in Spain supply rabbit fur to companies around the world,” said Sharon Nuñez Gough, executive director of Last Chance for Animals, the Los Angeles–based group that conducted the investigation along with animal rights group Animal Equality.

Undercover investigators captured video and audio of representatives of two fur distribution companies claiming that the rabbit furs are sold to some of the world’s top fashion designers. Much of the fur, the distributors said, ends up in products sold in the United States.

The rights groups said they have attempted to contact the designers to corroborate these allegations.

“None of the companies we exposed have gotten back to us to deny their relationship with the suppliers who mentioned them,” Nuñez Gough said. The animal rights groups were not able to uncover any physical documentation to back up the distributors’ claimed client lists.

Other organizations, including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, have conducted similar, albeit smaller, investigations and found similar conditions on rabbit farms in China and Spain.

Watch Sharon Nuñez Gough share findings from the Last Chance for Animals investigation of the fashion industry on TakePart Live.

“Every look into a fur farm is horrifying, and this is no exception,” said PETA president Ingrid E. Newkirk. “For fur farmers, rabbits are commodities—that’s why they’re stacked in cages and left to suffer from infections, respiratory viruses, heat exhaustion, and the constant stress of intense confinement.”

Newkirk added that while the videos from these types of investigations can be troubling to watch, they can persuade consumers to go fur-free and major retailers to adopt cruelty-free options.

Last Chance for Animals has put together a petition at its End Animal Cruelty site asking fashion designers to stop using fur in their products. It’s garnered about 80,000 signatures so far.

“We hope that the public pressure will help them reconsider the use of fur,” said Nuñez Gough. “We will also continue to investigate the fashion industry and expose the cruelty that goes on.”