The news that an enormous Danish fur cooperative is closing is bittersweet. While animal-lovers may rejoice at the end of Kopenhagen Fur, it comes on the tail of a massive culling of about 17 million farmed mink in Denmark due to worries that they could spread a mutated form of COVID-19 to humans.
Kopenhagen Fur is the world’s largest fur auction house in the world, a cooperative owned by 1,500 Danish fur farmers and brokers. In 2018-19, it sold nearly 25 million mink skins. This week, the auction house announced it would close within the next few years.
Humane Society International predicts that this could signify the end of the global fur industry. “The announcement by Kopenhagen Fur that it will cease trading shows that fur production has now passed a tipping point and it could very well signal the beginning of the end of the fur trade,” said Joanna Swabe, HSI Europe senior director of public affairs, as reported in VegNews. “Fur farms are not only the cause of immense and unnecessary animal suffering, but they are also ticking time bombs for deadly diseases. We cannot simply sit back and wait for the next pandemic to emerge from them.”
During the summer, mink farms in the U.S., Spain and the Netherlands all diagnosed COVID-19 in these little carnivorous mammals. Experts worried that the mutated form of the virus could threaten the effectiveness of the anticipated coronavirus vaccines. Just hours before the announcement of Kopenhagen Fur’s closure, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) released the “Rapid Risk Assessment: Detection of new SARS-CoV-2 variants related to mink.” This report details the awful consequences of mutated viruses spreading from farmed mink to humans and stresses that this risk also applies to other future viruses besides COVID-19.
“Mink farms provide the ideal environment for a mutating virus,” said Justine Butler, senior health researcher for the animal rights group Viva!. “The animals are kept in horrific conditions and experience extreme stress as a result of their cramped and inhumane surroundings. On these farms, the animals are tightly packed into filthy wire cages, standing on top of each other and in their own feces, which enables viruses to quickly mutate and spread throughout the population.”
The Netherlands is planning to stop fur production by March 2021. Perhaps we’ll soon be hearing more announcements about ending this cruel practice from other countries as well.
Image via Pixabay