Animal rights advocates yesterday called on the public to boycott the purchase of clothing made with rabbit fur because it is largely obtained using inhumane procedures.
The Environment and Animal Society (EAST) made the call at the release of a documentary showing how farmers in Hebei Province, China, raised Rex rabbits and slaughtered them for their fur.
The documentary, which can be also viewed on the organization’s Web site, showed four-week-old Rex rabbits crammed together in a small cage. Only later would they be raised in separate cages for fear their fur would be damaged as the rabbits fought.
“[When it is time to kill a rabbit] they [farmers] first give it electric shocks and then throw it onto a processing table, without even ascertaining if the rabbit is actually dead,” EAST director Chen Yu-min (陳玉敏) said. “Then the rabbits were hung upside down on an assembly line.”
To obtain the fur, an employee uses sharp razors, cuts a few lines on the back of the rabbit and peels its skin, she said.
“The rabbits could have just fainted and been temporarily paralyzed after the electric shocks. It is possible they could regain -consciousness while their skin is being peeled off,” she said.
The fur is then washed, softened and dyed with chemicals, which could cause enormous health risks for consumers, she said. Substances such as methanal, sulfuric acid, chromium and other poisonous chemicals are used in the process.
EAST said China accounts for 90 percent of rabbit fur on the g-lobal market. Statistics from the Directorate General of Customs also showed that a substantial share of rabbit fur found in Taiwan comes from China.
Taiwan imported nearly 129 tonnes of rabbit fur between 2006 and 2009, of which 47 percent came from China
As of 2009, Taiwan had 29 rabbit farms, which raised a total of 14,813 rabbits.
They are mainly raised for their meat, the pet market or for scientific experiments.
“Rabbit fur is mainly used as decoration and does not keep you warm,” Chen said, adding that people should reject products made with rabbit fur.