Since the formation of PETA in 1980, the crusade against fur has been taken mainstream. PETA has organized a number of high-profile campaigns: Throwing red paint at fashion shows on fur-wearing models, convincing celebrities to pose nude their “I’d Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur” ad campaign, and having activists walk the streets of Paris with their legs in traps.
Their actions have raised a lot of attention to their cause, and many famous designers have pledged not to use any fur in their clothing as a result of their pressure.
But is fur so bad?
Fur was the first clothing for cold weather climates. The ease of obtaining fur and its superior insulating abilities still make it the superior choice for everyone from the indigenous tribes of the arctic to metropolitan socialites.
Most animals raised or trapped for their fur are arctic or high-altitude species with thick coats like the fox, rabbit and chinchilla. Other species are aquatic mammals like mink, beaver and otter. The unique properties of their fur have been the result of thousands of years of evolution, allowing these animals to thrive in the harsh climates they made their homes. While some synthetic fibers have been developed that offer some of the advantages, none can match the warmth, durability and water resistance of fur.
Most fur pelts are sourced from fur farms, businesses that raise animals for their fur. Like all businesses, some have engaged in cruel and unethical practices in the past. These are the examples that groups like PETA use for their anti-fur shock campaigns.
However, a well-managed fur business is an ethical fur business. Animals that are kept in small cages with a poor quality of life show this in a poor quality coat. This gives the fur farmer a poor return on the investment he made raising his animals. Humane euthanasia methods, and good animal husbandry is the norm for most of the fur industry.