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After video surfaced of Chinese workers ripping hair off of live rabbits instead of clipping them (horribly, the animals were shown screaming), animal rights activists have called for retailers across the globe to cease their angora orders. PETA explains the issue on its site, stating, "Ninety percent of angora fur comes from China, where there are no penalties for abuse of animals on farms and no standards to regulate the treatment of the animals. When you buy a sweater, hat, or other product that contains angora, the angora fur most likely originated in China, even if the finished product was assembled elsewhere." Essentially, that fuzzy sweater you covet is most likely from a Chinese rabbit farm.
Many retailers, horrified by the evidence of cruelty, have already complied: ASOS, for example, responded quickly, issuing a statement that read in part, "it is not acceptable for animals to suffer in the name of fashion or cosmetics...we will remove all ASOS and third party branded product that fails to meet the policy and no new orders will be raised containing angora or other rabbit hair." H&M also announced that it would temporarily stop selling angora and would investigate its supply chain "to ensure that all Angora fur it obtains comes from farms using ethical practices." Shoppers are also allowed to return H&M angora products to stores for full refunds, should they wish to do so.
Last night, Gap joined both European retailers such as ASOS, H&M and Topshop, issuing a statement to shoppers via its Facebook page: "We are immediately suspending placement of orders using angora. We are also confirming that our ethical sourcing policies are being followed." It's a good step, but commenters are calling for more than a temporary suspension, arguing that the angora industry will never be ethical. Other major retailers, such as Zara, have yet to act.
UPDATE: In the face of consumer pressure, Zara has decided to join its competitors and has halted its orders of angora products. The news comes courtesy of Zara's parent company Inditex, which had this to say: "Inditex will not place any further order with any supplier for products containing angora wool until each relevant facility has been previously inspected again and the findings reviewed, following the Inditex Audit protocol."
· Gap community: We are immediately suspending placement of orders using angora. [Gap/Facebook]
· H&M Suspends Production of Items Containing Angora Wool [WSJ]
· ASOS Halts Angora Production [Vogue UK]
· A Look Inside the Angora Rabbit Fur Industry [PETA]