Welfare group reports severe breaches on Romanian fur farms

Sep 28, 2022, 11:17 AM | Updated: 11:21 pm

In this undated 2021 photo provided by Humane Society International/Europe, chinchillas inside cage...

In this undated 2021 photo provided by Humane Society International/Europe, chinchillas inside cages where they are bred for fur at an undisclosed location in Romania. An animal welfare charity says an undercover investigation has uncovered cruel and allegedly illegal practices in Romania's chinchilla fur farms. Humane Society International has now appealed to Romania's prime minister to “stop this atrocious suffering in the name of fashion” and completely ban fur farming in the Eastern European country. (Humane Society International/Europe via AP)

(Humane Society International/Europe via AP)

SIGHISOARA, Romania (AP) — In a dingy basement, chinchillas bred to provide the fashion industry with their fur bite the wire of cages that are stacked floor-to-ceiling with no natural light, as their babies struggle across the wire-mesh floors.

The scene captured on video is among the findings from an undercover investigation into conditions on Romania’s chinchilla fur farms, carried out last year by the animal welfare charity Humane Society International.

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

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

HSI investigators who looked into 11 chinchilla farms in different parts of Romania said some farmers told them they kill the animals by breaking their necks — a practice that contravenes the killing methods permitted for chinchillas under European Union law.

Chinchillas are a highly sociable species of rodent native to South America, and prized for their soft, silky fur.

“This investigation provides shocking evidence of the deprivation these animals are suffering in Romania for the fur industry,” said Andreea Roseti, Romania’s country director for HSI. “Such cruelty brings shame on Romania and we hope that our investigation marks the beginning of the end for the fur industry here.”

One fur farmer allegedly showed an HSI investigator a homemade gas chamber — a grim method of killing permitted under EU law — which had been constructed “using a pressure cooker.” The group also said female chinchillas are kept in almost permanent pregnancy cycles, during which they are forced to wear a “stiff neck brace or collar” to prevent them escaping during mating.

In response to HSI’s investigation, a group of Romanian lawmakers filed proposed legislation 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 itself with EU legislation” and join other bloc members that have already introduced such bans, the lawmakers said.

Gheorghe Pecingina, the deputy who initiated the proposal, told The Associated Press it is important that the “cruel” practice ends now because the chinchillas “are killed with barbaric methods” in Romania.

Prime Minister Ciuca’s office and the Association of Romanian Leather and Fur Producers didn’t immediately reply to AP requests for comment.

Last week Latvian lawmakers voted to amend legislation to ban fur farms, making Latvia the fifteenth of the EU’s 27 countries to call time on the industry.

“There is no possibility in which the life of animals or anything connected with these animals should be acceptable in fur farming,” HSI’s Roseti said. “These animals are only bred for their fur which is used for fashion … this is not a reason to keep (them) in those conditions and to 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 running a petition calling for an EU-wide ban on fur farms and on the trading of fur products on the bloc’s market. It’s raised more than 377,000 signatures so far.

“This is Romania’s chance to be on the right side of history,” Roseti said.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Photo: A delegate wears a hat with pins during the Republican National Convention Monday, July 15, ...

Christine Fernando, Steve People and Jill Colvin, The Associated Press

Rep. Walsh speaks for Washington as cheering GOP delegates nominate Trump for president

Cheering GOP delegates formally nominated Donald Trump for president at Monday's Republican National Convention kickoff.

8 days ago

Photo: Sen. J.D. Vance, R-Ohio, right, points toward Republican presidential candidate former Presi...

Jill Colvin, Julie Carr Smyth, Steve Peoples and Zeke Miller, The Associated Press

Trump picks Sen. JD Vance of Ohio, a once-fierce critic turned loyal ally, as his GOP running mate

Donald Trump named Sen. JD Vance of Ohio as his running mate, choosing a onetime critic who became a loyal ally.

8 days ago

trump assassination...

Ayanna Alexander, The Associated Press

What to know about Trump assassination attempt and the investigation into the shooting

Authorities want to know how a shooter was able to get on top of a roof so close to where former President Donald Trump was speaking and open fire.

9 days ago

Photo: Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump is surrounded by U.S. Secret...

Julie Carr Smyth, Jill Colvin, Colleen Long, Michael Balsamo, Eric Tucker and Michelle L. Price, The Associated Press

Trump heads to convention as authorities investigate motive, security in assassination attempt

Trump called for unity and resilience after an attempt on his life added fresh uncertainty to an already tumultuous presidential campaign.

9 days ago

Photo: President Joe Biden speaks from the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Sunday,...

Will Weissert and Zeke Miller, The Associated Press

In primetime address, Biden says country must not go down road of political violence

President Joe Biden says “we can’t, we must not go down” the road of political violence in America after the attempted Trump assassination.

9 days ago

Photo: President Joe Biden speaks at a news conference following the NATO Summit in Washington, Thu...

Zeke Miller, Seung Min Kim, Lisa Mascaro and Colleen Long, The Associated Press

Biden says during news conference he’s going to ‘complete the job’ despite calls to bow out

Biden used his highly anticipated news conference to deliver a defense of his policies and batted away questions about his ability to serve.

12 days ago

Welfare group reports severe breaches on Romanian fur farms