Horrific aerial images of skinned foxes piled in a heap described “like a scene from hell” have sent shockwaves across the animal rights community.
The foxes can be seen chucked into a pile before their fur is made into coats to be sold on the high street.
Footage from a farm in Asia show the gruesome sight with thousands of animals strewn across the floor, according to Mirror Online.
With some animals still alive, they wait to be taken away in the back of a lorry.
TV wildlife presenter and campaigner Chris Packham described it as “like a scene from hell.”
More than 100 million animals are killed each year for their fur including mink, fox, raccoon dog, chinchilla and rabbit – three every second.
They typically spend their lives in one-metre-squared battery cages and are only moved twice – for weaning and on the day they die.
Much of the fur comes from China, the US, France, Italy and Poland. In 2018 almost £75m of animal fur was imported, including £5.3m from China alone.
The Daily Mirror is calling for an immediate ban on the sale of fur products in the UK.
Joining forces with Humane Society International UK, we also want an end to animals being trapped for their skins here, and repercussions for businesses knowingly passing off real fur as fake.
The footage was captured by the charity’s investigators.
The exact location has not been revealed to protect their identity for fear of punishment.
One of the team said: “I’ve never seen so much death in one place. It really shocked me and I had to steady myself to keep filming.
“There was a mountain of dead bodies, there must have been tens of thousands of animals discarded like rubbish, like their lives meant nothing.”
He also captured animals repetitively pacing and swaying their heads, classic signs of mental distress and boredom.
Animals are kept in rows of cages in long sheds exposed to the elements. Cages are barren apart from the faeces on the floor. Water dishes were also empty.
But that is the least of their problems. When the foxes and raccoon dogs are a year old and their winter coats have developed, they are repeatedly smashed over the head with a metal bar while terrified cage mates helplessly bark.
Investigators also captured what experts say is strong evidence of a fox regaining consciousness after being fully skinned and thrown on a pile.
HSI UK veterinary consultant Professor Alastair MacMillan said: “The pain of that would be unimaginable. This footage is absolutely appalling.
“The stunning and slaughtering process is done with such a flagrant lack of skill or care, making it highly likely that many of these foxes did not lose consciousness and suffered severe pain.
“Equally, a significant proportion could have regained consciousness before, during and even after they had been skinned.”
Packham gave his backing to the sales ban campaign, saying: “I am astonished at the depravity of the fur trade. It is like a scene from hell and anyone who knowingly wears fur should not turn away from watching it. Aside from the unbelievable cruelty of their deaths, these foxes and raccoon dogs will have endured utterly miserable lives.
“There can be no place in British shops and wardrobes for fur, not when this is the price animals pay.”
The world’s total fur sales in 2019 totalled £17.4billion, according to the Fur Information Council of America.
Some fur creations were seen on the catwalks at Milan Fashion Week this year but designers including Prada, Gucci, Armani, Versace, Michael Kors, Jimmy Choo, DKNY, Burberry and Chanel have ditched it.
In 2019, California became the first US state to ban fur sales. This year, Hawaii and Rhode Island followed.
Many British retailers are actively fur-free but clothes, shoes and accessories made of fur can still be found on the high street and online – whether the buyer knows it or not.
A Daily Mirror investigation found real fur clothes masquerading as fake, made from the pelts of foxes, rabbits and raccoon dogs, from as little as £5 in shopping centres and markets.
It is estimated 75% of China’s wildlife trade is dedicated to fur production, making it the world’s biggest.
In the Netherlands, 20 mink fur farms have been closed down after animals were confirmed as infected with the coronavirus strain that causes Covid-19. More than 800,000 mink were culled by government order.
Three farms in Denmark infected with the coronavirus are also shut.
Claire Bass, executive director of Humane Society International UK said: “Behind the PR spin of the fur trade, this is the hideous, heartless reality they don’t want you to see.
“Raccoon dogs driven mad with boredom in their pitifully small wire cages, foxes repeatedly smashed over the head with a metal bar in front of their terrified cage mates, animals skinned alive so that the fur trade can sell consumers the lie of luxury.
“I am sickened and heartbroken by what our investigators witnessed on these cruel farms, but not surprised.
“Every designer putting fur on the catwalk, every retailer putting fur on its shop shelves, and every consumer putting fur in their wardrobe, is helping to pay for this shameful misery.
“It needs to stop, and the UK is now in a unique position to take action by banning fur sales.
“This – and every – investigation into the fur trade shows that fur is not glamorous, it’s grotesque, it’s cruelty not couture, and it’s time for the UK to stop trading in such horrors.
“The UK banned fur farming two decades ago because it’s inherently cruel. But if it’s too cruel to farm here, it’s also too cruel to sell here.
“With The Mirror’s support for #FurFreeBritain we will put the cruelty of the fur trade firmly back on the agenda and inspire politicians to reflect public opinion and stop this trade in suffering.”
You can sign the Daily Mirror and HSI petition calling for a UK fur sales ban at hsi.org/furfreebritain