Sensationalized videos claiming to show “animal abuse” are sadly a fact of life these days for animal agriculture, and they’re often promoted (if not actually filmed) by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. One such video, dealing with wool production from Angora rabbits, premiered in 2013 and has gone unchallenged – until now. An Angora farmer in the US contacted us to raise some real concerns about this video, which we think are worth sharing.
Before dissecting the video, let’s start with a backgrounder on Angora wool production.
There are two distinct types of Angora rabbit: those that moult, and those that don’t.
Those that moult have their wool plucked every three or four months, just before moulting begins. Plucking produces the best wool because most of the guard hairs are left behind, but it is time-consuming. Plucking leaves in place the incoming coat, although one breed, the French Angora, can be fed a depilatory which results in the exposure of bare skin. Here’s a video showing how to pluck an Angora properly.
Angoras that don’t moult are sheared. Because the guard hairs are included, the wool is not such high quality, but collecting it is quicker and the yield is higher because wool can be sheared even from sensitive areas of the rabbit’s body. Shearing is therefore more common in commercial operations. The most important commercial breed is the high-yielding and virtually mat-free German Angora. Ninety per cent of Angora wool production today is in China, and almost all Chinese farms raise German Angoras. Here’s a video showing how to shear an Angora properly.
OK, it’s time to watch the main attraction. If you find videos of animal cruelty hard to stomach, just give it a miss and take my word.
0:10 – 1:03: This rabbit is almost certainly a non-moulting German Angora, even though it looks very similar to a moulting French Angora. We can tell it’s a non-moulting breed because its legs are tethered to what is called a stretching board. These are sometimes used, but not always, when rabbits are sheared.
PETA describes the stretching process as follows: “During the cutting process, their front and back legs are tightly tethered – a terrifying experience for any prey animal – and the sharp cutting tools inevitably wound them as they struggle desperately to escape.” In reality, while rabbits being stretched for the first time might be nervous, they soon learn to relax. Stretching keeps the rabbit still and pulls the skin taut, thereby preventing nicks and cuts from the shears – the total opposite of what PETA claims. Here’s an excellent video demonstrating how stretching is done.
Oh, but what’s happening now? Having set the rabbit up for shearing, the man is plucking it right down to its skin! He is also applying far greater force than is ever needed to pluck a moulting breed. This is all wrong for two reasons. First, the rabbit is obviously in pain. Second, as US Angora farmer and advisor on this blog post Dawn Panda says, this could be called “worst business practice”. “We see the wool being yanked off, guard hairs included, in a manner that will ruin the coat for several cycles,” says Dawn. “It will damage the hair follicles and greatly reduce the quality and value of future harvests as new coats will grow in coarser and hairier. No one trying to make money would do that.”
This raises a disturbing question. Are we seeing a non-moulting German Angora being forcibly, and very roughly, plucked just for the camera?
READ ALSO: “Saving Society from Animal ‘Snuff Films;”. Fur Commission USA.
1:04 – 1:17: Here a rabbit is being sheared, so we don’t see any pink skin. It appears calm. At this point in the video, it is not clear whether this footage and the footage of a rabbit being violently plucked were shot on the same farm. We’ll come back to this because, if all the footage is from one farm, the question is raised why one rabbit would be plucked and one sheared.
1:18-1:22: Here a rabbit that has just been sheared is shown suspended in the air by its front legs. This makes no sense, Dawn assures us. There is no part of Angora husbandry in which a rabbit would ever find itself in this situation. It can’t even be claimed the rabbit fell off its stretching board because it’s far too high. Once again, we can’t help but wonder if this bizarre scene was staged for the camera.
1:36-2:02: Here we see a parade of seven rabbits in their cages. Of these, the first three still have hair on their torsos and have been sheared. The next three have been plucked right down to their skin. The last rabbit cannot be seen clearly.
This scene suggests that the violent plucking at the beginning of the video and the shearing that followed took place on the same farm. And since commercial farmers generally don’t have mixed herds of moulting and non-moulting rabbits, we can also suppose that all the rabbits shown are non-moulting German Angoras. The burning question is now unavoidable: Was the violent plucking of a non-moulting rabbit in the opening sequence staged for the camera? It would not be normal practice on a commercial Angora farm, insists Dawn.
“If animal lovers would use their heads, they wouldn’t be taken in by sensationalist publicity stunts,” she says. “However, the addition of poignant music seems to ensure that one’s heart is going to overrule one’s head and voila! Misinformation is spread exponentially, the lie repeated until it’s accepted as fact. There are a number of excellent teaching videos on plucking and/or shearing Angora rabbits on YouTube; the lack of screaming, struggling or any pain is the norm, not the exception. This PETA video certainly does not reflect the reality of Angora farming as I know it!”
If PETA’s Angora rabbit video was indeed staged to misrepresent normal practice, we should not be surprised. This ignominious tactic by animal activists traces its roots all the way back to 1964, when the urban myth about seals being “skinned alive” began with a film that was later proven to have been staged.
While people have a right to believe that humans should not kill or use animals in any way, they lose all credibility when they manipulate images to attack the reputations of those they disagree with.
There may be some mentally unstable people who are in over their heads enough to stage a cruel video because they think it will help animals in general. But you are asking us to believe:
1. That animal rights activists, who care about animals and whose motivations are only to see animals one day be free from human-inflicted harm, go about very frequently staging horrifying operations being done to animals, since there are many picture and video documents of this sort of thing.
2. The fur industry, which is motivated completely by profit, cares about its animals to go to lengths to relax its rabbits as they are being stretched and not cause them any cuts, and that their response to these *extreme* videos showing the opposite is not questionable, which has been to say ,”We can’t just put an observer on every farm. Instead, let’s just ask whether or not it’s possible that it didn’t really happen”.
Wow, which one sounds more full of crap?
Hi Marlo, as the author of this blog post, I can say that you are putting words into my mouth.
1. There is no reason to think animal activists are staging videos “very frequently”. Instances of such videos are few, but they do get a lot of exposure when PETA et al. use them in their campaigns. Also note that there are many shades of grey when it comes to “staging”. For example, in the Angora video it may simply have been a case of offering a free lunch to a poorly paid worker to act more roughly than normal. Who knows? The real fraud comes in presenting it as standard operating procedure, which we are quite sure it is not.
2. Harvesting of Angora wool does not come under the auspices of the fur industry. We reported this case because our experiences have been comparable, and because we were asked to do so by North American Angora farmers. Our common ground is the argument that it makes no sense from a business perspective to treat either farmed furbearers or farmed Angora rabbits cruelly. For that reason, it makes no sense to put a full-time observer on every farm, and the evidence needed to launch a proper investigation must be more substantial than a propaganda video from such an unreliable source as PETA.
Pretty obvious that this website is made by fur association/company who are not acknowledging that some businesses might actually treat rabbits like this video shows. Even though it might not be the majority of businesses, it is not difficult to believe that it happens/ed unfortunately.
Well, A.A., that line of thinking really doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. Of course this website represents the fur trade. We state so clearly here: https://truthaboutfur.com/about-nafic More importantly, it is implicit throughout this article that such practices could actually exist in theory. That is why we use the question form to ask viewers if they believe it. We have been informed by angora farmers that these practices never occur in reality, but short of placing independent observers on every single angora farm, we cannot state that with 100% certainty.
I’ve answered as best I can below. I won’t be responding further, there seems little point – except to say I think that you are on the wrong side of history.
Which mink farm video are you referring to? We have a few, I believe, on our website.
I’m sure you have more than just one house of horror to view, but I think seeing one will suffice.
As for why the fur trade serves an important role other than making a profit, let’s start with our section on trapping: https://truthaboutfur.com/reasons-we-trap Is this all just nonsense to you? Yes absolute nonsense. This claptrap is trotted out across the globe to justify cruelty for profit.
Are you aware that states that restrict or ban trapping for fur (e.g., California) don’t actually ban trapping? Instead they pay trappers, using taxpayers’ money, to control predators, urban pests, and manage wildlife populations? Two wrongs don’t make a right.
The benefit of having a healthy fur trade is that this work is done for free.
Trapping, breeding, caging, gassing – benefit to whom?
Also trust me when I say that there is not a single trapper in North America today who’s getting rich. Unfortunately, I don’t trust you – sorry.
Dear Trade, there is nothing ‘moral or ethical’ about the fur trade. What possible reason could there be to do this…apart from profit? I have studied your site and I can’t see any ‘benefit’ to humankind from this practice. The mink farm video is particularly awful – rows of barren cages, pregnant females, then to be gassed and for what? So that someone in the 21st century can have a fur coat that they don’t need? All of it is cruel – trapping, caging, breeding, gassing – all of it. You’ve spent a lot of time producing a piece to try to prove a point – but the real point is that this crude and barbaric practice needs to be consigned to the dustbin of history. It is a moral outrage.
You’re a quick study! Which mink farm video are you referring to? We have a few, I believe, on our website. As for why the fur trade serves an important role other than making a profit, let’s start with our section on trapping: https://truthaboutfur.com/reasons-we-trap Is this all just nonsense to you? Are you aware that states that restrict or ban trapping for fur (e.g., California) don’t actually ban trapping? Instead they pay trappers, using taxpayers’ money, to control predators, urban pests, and manage wildlife populations? The benefit of having a healthy fur trade is that this work is done for free. Also trust me when I say that there is not a single trapper in North America today who’s getting rich.
For everything that is inherently or perceived to be wrong with trapping wild animals, the fur farms are beyond the pale.
Hi Joe, you’ve submitted no fewer than six comments on this post, but none of them addresses what this post is actually about. Hence I have decided to publish just this one comment. I hope you understand.
I’ll bet you censor a lot of people. It’s easier that way.
Joe, get a grip. Are you suffering from the lockdown blues? The rules here are simple. Read a blog post, and then make a comment that is relevant to that post. Provided you keep your language clean, we will publish it. But you just keep hammering away submitting comments on one post that I don’t think you’ve even read. Play by these simple rules please. Your language is fine, but your comments are irrelevant. Do better.
How many times did you comment. You don’t allow opinion other than yours, because you are the TRUTH….as you see it.
You keep telling people that they have missed the point but I’m sorry it is you who has missed it – you are trying to justify the unjustifiable – that being the fur trade is in any way ethical, moral or right. And it doesn’t really matter if the video is staged or not, the truth is that these animals will live miserable, rotten lives, treated as a commodity, a ‘for profit’ living creature – there to be abused and mistreated until the end of their life.
The truth is that animals all over the world are suffering a cruel fate at the hands of human beings with the fur trade right up there at the top – it is an abomination and must end. I can’t believe you are dedicating your time trying to defend it on this blog.
Well, obviously we disagree about the morality and ethics of using animals for human benefit, including for fur. Please explore our website, TruthAboutFur.com, to learn why we feel this way.
This is disgusting! Why don’t you allow someone to tie you up and rip out the hair from your head and body.. brutally I may add. You are a sick person if you honestly are trying to justify tearing fur from an animal.
Hi Jen, please take the time to re-read this article – slowly – since you have completely missed the point. In no way, shape or form is it trying to justify the farming of Angora wool as depicted in PETA’s video. It simply questions whether anyone would actually do this. In other words, has the video been staged? Any thoughts on that?
I can’t believe someone would think it was staged for such a purpose. Only an animal abuser, like the ones in the video, could do such a thing. This is an injustice to the animals being abused everyday. You must really like your fur coats if you would do this. Absolutely outrageous! I have to question your ethical values.
Hi Julia. Unfortunately you give animal rights activists too much credit. Some of them (hopefully very few, but it only takes one) are willing to do “whatever it takes”, including staging video. You might want to watch this exposé of the notorious case of an Asiatic raccoon being skinned alive. The fur trade has long known it was staged, but now the proof is in. https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=z6joIOEk6JU
You are so bad!
How can you do this to animal ,just for many!
James, you may have missed the point of this blog post. Angora rabbit farmers have told Truth About Fur that they believe this PETA video was staged. In other words, farmers don’t actually do what you’re seeing here.
Last ditch effort of animal abusers is to suggest the public deny what they are seeing with their eyes. I promise, your worst nightmare doesn’t come close to what these rabbits face every single day.
Well, Shaun, you’ve inadvertently hit the nail on the head. The overwhelming majority of the public never see anything related to animal husbandry with their own eyes. They rely on video, and must rely on the person who shot and edited the video to tell the truth. However, everyone seems to have an agenda these days, so most videos of animal husbandry are, at best, biassed, whether it’s pro or anti the activity shown. You may be interested in this video, which exposes what the fur trade has long suspected, that an infamous live-skinning of an Asiatic raccoon in China was staged for the camera. https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=z6joIOEk6JU
Pointless cruelty. Whether it appears ok to you to tie a Rabbit down and get fur off it by whatever means you feel is appropriate..to me it’s cruel. When will people realize that subjecting animals to a life of slavery for the vanity of some ego centric idiots to wear needs to stop.
Staged? Why are you, the author, trying to make it sound like the videos can’t be true because the U.S. or another developed country, with laws, technology and hopefully values would not allow – nor recommend – the treatment of rabbits in this way. China is virtually devoid of any laws concerning ethical or humane treatment of animals. In China, even where there are some animal welfare laws, these are rarely enforced because there aren’t enough enforcement officers, the areas are too remote, the communities see the methods as totally normal or acceptable, because it’s faster or more lucrative for the treatment involved to be carried out even at great pain and fear for the animals. So because – and yes, we know about the staged seal video – some vanishingly-small number of videos depicting grotesque treatment of animals have been staged, although the only one I’ve ever heard of is that seal video, are you trying to imply that the countless videos or even pictures of horrific cruelty are most likely staged? I assure you that is not the case. Are you really suggesting that all the lined up dirty cages, workers who work fast and with agility ripping out the fur, rabbits with obvious health problems, are all elaborately staged? These rabbits are kept, their fur pulled out several times a year, and when their production of the downy white fur declines, they are killed and eaten or sold as food. Do not diminish the suffering of animals because you trace staging of videos of horrific cruelty back to a single video from decades ago: “The origins of this vicious lie go back fully 50 years, to the first seal-hunt protests, and those charges were soon proved to be false, as we will explain soon.” Then you cite reasons why “It just can’t be true.” Let’s go right to the raccoon dogs being skinned alive in China. You say skinning animals alive for their fur doesn’t happen because: It would be completely inhumane – this concept virtually does not exist in China among older and more traditional generations; It would be dangerous for the operator – watching the video taken in China of raccoon dogs, one sees the first action after dragging the animal out of the cage is to slam the animal to the ground one or more times, until the neck or back is broken or other damage is so severe that the animal can do little more than squirm; It would take longer and be less efficient – we see that raccoon dogs are not skinned by a single “operator,” rather two or three men act together to tie the animal to a post, quickly make the cut and pull the fur + skin off together; It would spoil the fur- there is virtually no blood whatsoever in these videos – the fur of certain animals can easily come off in one piece with the membrane-like skin underneath remaining intact. YOU blame PETA and other groups of having a purpose for falsely depicting animal cruelty, and yet YOU have a very obvious purpose for dismissing the cruelty of the fur industry because YOU REPRESENT THE FUR INDUSTRY of North America. Your home page states “Truth About Fur is produced by the North American Fur Industry Communications group (NAFIC), with support from … ” some ten fur industry groups. I think we can see where you are coming from.
Sandra, the reason we called out the PETA video of angora rabbits was because we were assured by breeders in the US that the treatment shown in the video made absolutely no sense. Basically, any farmer who treated his animals in such a way would not be in business long. In other words, rather than being “more lucrative”, it would only lose them money in the long run. However, we did not say the video was definitely staged. It’s conceivable that it showed a farm where everything was being done wrong.
As for the infamous raccoon dog video, I can say with 100% certainty that the cameraman (or a translator) gave instructions in Chinese to those handling the animals, because I’ve heard parts of the original soundtrack. This is, of course, never included when animal rights groups distribute this video. These instructions included orders to treat the animals badly. It was unfortunate that Swiss Animal Protection, the producer of this video, declined all requests to release the original, uncut footage.
As for where we are “coming from”, we can at least agree on that. Yes, we represent the fur industry. It’s no secret. As you astutely observe, it’s stated clearly on our website.
Staged? Tell me… What would that accomplish?
It’s quite simple. Staged videos of animal cruelty are intended to fool the public into thinking these acts are standard practice in the fur industry.
Why are you not commenting? Why are you deleting my responses?
Hi Dennis, I’m sorry your responses have been deleted, but there is a reason. It’s been our experience, particularly with our post “5 reasons why it’s ridiculous to claim animals are skinned alive” (https://truthaboutfur.com/5-reasons-animals-are-not-skinned-alive/), that readers such as yourself expect us to review a whole slew of videos of alleged animal cruelty. Aside from being a very unpleasant job, it has also proved pointless. Out of, say, 100 video links, half are to the same videos. Most have nothing to do with the fur trade (no matter what they say). And those very few which are related to the fur trade are well known to the industry and appear to be staged. Trust me, the industry has looked at those ones very closely. Should you, or anyone, come across a video that shows cruelty (especially skinning alive) in the fur industry that has clearly not been staged, you should, of course, report it to appropriate authorities, and we would like to know too. But if such videos even exist, they’re very rare, and bombarding us with links to highly suspect or irrelevant videos is not the way to grab our attention. Hope you understand.
Here is a success story regarding pigs… “A worker jabs mother pigs with electric prongs and even uses them on one apparently stunned pig’s abdomen and/or genitals. Sentient, intelligent, and gentle creatures cry out in distress before being rendered insensible and hung upside down by one leg to have their throats slit. Blood pours out as other pigs—about to endure the same fate—look on in terror.
Thanks to a whistleblower, we exposed these atrocities and others at the Southern Quality Meats, Inc. (SQM), slaughterhouse in Mississippi. After news about the mistreatment went public, SQM announced that it was closing its doors—for good. That’s the power of PETA’s campaigns—and the power of supporters like you”
So would you consider the investigation conducted by PETA too also be staged? What about all of the other investigations they do? Is it some kind of coincidence that the only staged investigation done by PETA is the one about Angora Rabbits in China?
Let’s be crystal clear on a few points here. (1) All responsible members of the fur trade deplore cruelty to animals as much as anyone. (2) It is only logical to assume that abuses do take place in animal husbandry. (3) We have suggested, based on the advice of Angora rabbit breeders, that the video footage of Angora production in China might have been staged. Without access to the full, uncut footage and sound track, it is usually impossible to state categorically that video has been staged. (4) Besides not stating categorically that the Angora video has been staged, we also have not stated that it is the only investigation staged by PETA or anyone else. Perhaps it is important to point out that these “investigations” are rarely carried out by the animal rights groups that publicise them. More often than not (we suspect), they amount to nothing more than video footage shot by a private individual who then submits the footage to an animal rights group which then endorses it.
If it was staged or not, poor rabbits were suffering during the video. I couldn’t bring myself to listen to it and only watched about 20 seconds before I got sick to my stomach. Whoever was doing this needs to be put in jail, or worse.
We agree, Joyce. It’s worth noting that since this video was published, no similar videos have surfaced of Angora production, that we know of. This strengthens our belief that it was staged.
Anyone who thinks that skinning animals alive is OK (or not so bad) he or she is a soul-less psychopath. Same goes for all the people who support the brutal, torturous practice of plucking geese for down and the systematic mutilation of “farm” animals. Shame on “humanity”. We are the real (and only!) beasts.
The good news is that no one thinks skinning animals alive is ok, which is why this never happens in the fur trade. That’s a fact. As for plucking ducks for down, most down now comes from birds slaughtered for meat. For “mutilation” of farm animals, can you be more specific?
Wild predators routinely skin and eat animals alive. We do not. We are far kinder to our prey animals than wolves, bears, and hawks, for example.
Wolves, bears and hawks don’t have factory farms where they breed and pass their prey along a conveyor belt to produce fashion for their overpopulated species.
Anyone that has actually worked with any rabbits would immediately know that this is impossible to have done. You cannot rip their fur out like that, down to the skin, without actually tearing the hide off them. Bunny hide is very fragile, and if pulled on like that, it would tear completely off. In other words, you would be seeing their meat and sinew, not bare skin.
Really? I clicked on and switched off a video and felt physically sick to see a rabbit scream.The sounds of that haunted me for days.
Animals are not commodities and should not be kept prisoner for fur,wool or leather.Leave them alone !
You make two different points here really. Yes, that screaming rabbit is haunting, and raises a key question: Is it acceptable for animal rights groups to stage violence against animals just to further their agenda? We believe the answer is absolutely not.
Whether it is ok for humans to use animals for clothing is a much broader issue, and one that is worthy of debate. Unfortunately staged videos of animal cruelty distort the debate, and actually set it back, because they don’t reflect reality.
1) Utilizing natural resources has been a human way of life since our existence. Animals have been bred to produce wool so we can clothe ourselves. This has been the most natural and sustainable way of life. Until petro products arrived on the scene, we have utilized plants and animals for this purpose. With synthetics, we have a slew of problems in terms of carbon footprint, fast fashion, and filling landfills with clothes that won’t biodegrade.
2) Raising rabbits for wool is a lot of work, time, money, and requires a heightened love for the animal. Shearing, spinning into yarn, knitting or weaving into a finished product heightens the reverence for the rabbit. The rabbit is NOT a commodity and a greater appreciation is had for both the animal and the finished garment (that will last). Even if you don’t personally raise the rabbit, wearing animal products should give you a greater appreciation for the product and animal if you know everything that goes into it.
3) The angora rabbit is not a “prisoner” and would die if left on its own or “set free” in the wild. The wool needs to come off or would matt, cause the rabbit to overheat, or disable the rabbit so that it would become prey to something else.
Having seen the video in question, I too am wondering just why various methods would be used in one barn unless there were molting and non-molting kinds present–which doesn’t make sense in a well established fiber production line. The non-molting German *may* also be given the feed-administered ‘depilatory’, but what this feed does is to weaken the hairshaft so much that it breaks very easily—IF the dosage is correct. If the dose is off, or the proper interval after administration isn’t observed, you’re going to be trying to rip off fur that isn’t ready to come, and that, I suspect, is a significant part of the problem in wool harvest in this film. And any way you look at it, a method which creates so much stress and pain as is shown is simply WRONG.
Most angora wool from reputable sources is sheared or gently plucked, as unlike this piece of film as one can get. The dangling rabbits break their backs with appalling regularity, guaranteed. Not exactly a good practice if you want to make money!
I’ve seen some major wool producers shear and their abilities are awesome. The rabbits are used to the handling required and do not show stress or wind up with cuts.
So yes, something in this film is very wrong. Is it staged? Hard to say. But it certainly has been produced to show the absolute worst of this industry, and a responsible onlooker would not have continued filming after the first distress became obvious.
It is absolutely staged. When it came out I googled “Angora farmer”. NO ONE rips the hair out, they ALL just cut it off with scissors. THINK about it-what happens when you repeatedly rip hair out? Ever heard of waxing or epilation? It grows back finer until it does not grow at all. The angora people would be putting themselves out of business! You really only have to spend a few minutes to uncover the truth-PETA kills and abuses animals. http://www.petakillsanimals.com
I found the story and video interesting and educational!