27th April 2020 – After COVID-19 infections were found on two mink farms in the Netherlands, global animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS is calling for a rapid ban on fur farming in China and other countries. On Sunday, April 26, the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture confirmed the discovery of the COVID-19 virus after symptoms such as respiratory problems and increased mortality was observed in the animals. A few workers also showed symptoms but have not been tested so far.
Also, during the 2003 SARS pandemic, the virus was detected in racoon dogs, amongst others, which are kept in their millions on fur farms.
“On fur farms, thousands of animals such as mink, racoon dogs or foxes are crammed into tiny cages under horrific conditions. Many animals suffer from injuries and diseases. Fur farms must be banned not only from an animal welfare point of view but also to stop the development and spread of dangerous zoonoses, such as the current COVID-19 virus,"
demands Thomas Pietsch, Wildlife Expert at FOUR PAWS!
One of Germany's most renowned corona experts, Professor Dr Christian Drosten, who directs the Institute of Virology at the Charité Hospital in Berlin, also suspects racoon dog farms as a possible source of the COVID-19 virus, according to the British newspaper The Guardian.
China as a fur hotspot
China has, by far, the most important fur industry in the world. In 2018, an estimated 21 million mink skins, 17 million fox skins and 12 million racoon dog skins were produced there. Nevertheless, the Chinese government has currently exempted the fur industry from restrictions on wildlife use as a result of the current pandemic and has listed fur animals as farm animals. “Not only wildlife markets must be closed for safety reasons. The fur industry needs to be shut down too and its role in the creation of COVID-19 has to be investigated fastest possible,” says Pietsch. Transmission of the COVID-19 virus from farm animals and pets to humans is currently ruled out.
FOUR PAWS is an international animal welfare organisation with headquarters in Vienna, Austria. Founded by Heli Dungler in 1988, the organisation strives to help animals in need with sustainable campaigns and projects. The work is based on substantiated research and scientific expertise as well as intensive national and international lobbying. FOUR PAWS focuses on animals that are directly under human influence: stray dogs and stray cats, farm animals, companion animals and wild animals including bears, big cats and orang-utans kept in inappropriate conditions. With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Hungary, Kosovo, Netherlands, South Africa, Switzerland, Thailand, Ukraine, United Kingdom, USA and Vietnam, FOUR PAWS aims to help animals in need directly and quickly. www.four-paws.org.uk