Ethical Issues: Using Rabbit Fur for Fashion

There is something luxurious about wearing fur and it provides nearly unparalleled warmth in frigid weather conditions. Nevertheless, animal rights activitists, and even people not as vocal, grapple with whether it is ethical to use rabbit fur for clothing. Breeding rabbits for fur is one of the fastest growing industries in the fur business because rabbits breed rapidly and are easy to contain. Additionally, it is easy to dye the fur because it is cheap to produce in comparison to other animals.

The Life of Rabbits Bred for Fur

The life of rabbits bred for fur is isolated. While rabbits naturally enjoy interacting with each other, those bred for fur are kept in small wire cages. Newborns may be left with their brothers and sisters for four weeks, but are then isolated so that their fur does not become marred. Rabbits housed individually have little room to hop around and those caged in a group are also overcrowded. Often rabbits are removed from the mother, who are only permitted to nurse them limited times. Sometimes the living conditions can cause the rabbits to have deformities or spinal problems, or the close proximity of group living makes it easy for disease to spread. When they are taken to slaughterhouses, rabbits may be packed close together and some will die on the way.

Vintage versus New Fur

Older rabbit and other vintage fur coats were created well before animal rights became fashionable or even conceived. Some advocates of animal rights believe that recycling old furs is acceptable. In part, the animals have been dead for years and, additionally, updating older fur may not require killing additional rabbits, minks, or other animals.

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New Furs

Some people believe that killing animals for their fur is cruel and that the best way to prevent this type of animal abuse is to boycott wearing fur. Nevertheless, some of those same people eat rabbit and other animals that are killed to supply food. Practically, it makes sense to use the entire animal including the fur if the rabbit is killed primarily for food. However, rabbits slaughtered for meat usually have less expensive fur based on color, condition of the fur, and the type of rabbit.

Years ago, when man first used fur pelts for warmth, there were not synthetic fabrics and furs. Today it is possible to obtain a fur like appearance without killing rabbits. Nevertheless, some might argue that in the circle of life a number of rabbits would die regardless of whether they were bred for fur or not. Additionally, there will probably always be a market for fur because many people enjoy it and banning breeding rabbits for fur may result in even worse conditions for the rabbits if they were bred secretly.

So, what has Donna Karan got to do with this? Some time ago she was misguided enough too use rabbit fur in some of her creations and this caused a furore over the Internet! Websites were set up specifically to persuade her to cease doing this and she was even accosted by protesters and, sadly, some vandalism was committed too. Wisely, she is now stated that you will not use rabbit fur again; presumably she will keep her word.

Copyright Peter Moore 2010