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​Arctic Foxes Kept In Cramped Cages Shame Fashion Industry

​Arctic Foxes Kept In Cramped Cages Shame Fashion Industry

When you think of Arctic foxes, you probably think of them pouncing on their prey through thick layers of snow.

But images have been released showing the shocking conditions in which these creatures are being kept at a fur farm in Finland, and it's a long way from their natural habitat.

The heartbreaking images show the poor animals cramped into wire cages. They're bloated beyond recognition - selectively bred to grow as big as possible and to produce the largest pelts of fur.

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It's been illegal to farm fur for 15 years in the UK, and it's banned in countries like Austria and the Netherlands too, but it's still possible to buy imported pelts here.

Currently, some two million pelts are imported to the UK every year, and PETA have estimated that £2.5 million ($3.3m) worth of fur items were imported from Finland in the last five years.

Next week, MPs will debate on a petition that calls to ban sales altogether.

Credit: Oikeutta Eläimille
Credit: Oikeutta Eläimille
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Although fur may seem like something that would carry a massive price tag, fox fur has been spotted on fluffy pop-pom keyrings in high street shops.

The foxes on these farms in Finland - and there are about 900 farms there - grow to 40lb, which is five times larger than their weight when they live in the wild. It's all because farmers are paid more for bigger pelts.

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They're kept in cages their entire lives, before they're killed so that their soft coats can be used for clothes and accessories.

The pictures have been released by Oikeutta Eläimille (Justice for Animals), a Finnish animal rights group, who are campaigning to ban the practice.

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They have also claimed that the creatures are being genetically selected to breed the biggest foxes, and that the biggest males are kept as breeding stock.

Credit: Oikeutta Eläimille
Credit: Oikeutta Eläimille
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In the wild, these amazing animals put on up to 50 percent of their own body weight to see them through the tougher winter months, but in captivity they're fed on a high-fat diet of pulped fish and offal all year round to make them grow as massive as possible.

The creatures are coveted for their soft winter coats, which have reportedly been used by brands such as Louis Vuitton and Prada.

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Kati Pulli, a vet and a director of the Finnish Federation for Animal Welfare Associations, told the Daily Mail about the problems these conditions cause.

"Typical health problems include bent legs, which may be the result of being overweight and lack of exercise," said Ms Pulli.

"The folds of skin on their body might cause skin inflammation and their eyelids may become loose. They may have red or pink eyes because of infections, which are contagious."

Whatever your stance on fur or animal rights, it's difficult not to be moved by these pictures.

Featured Image Credit: Credit: Oikeutta Eläimille

Topics: Animal Cruelty, World News, Fashion, Animal Welfare, Animals, Fox, Finland

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Daisy Jackson

Daisy Jackson is a freelance writer, who has previously worked at Shortlist Media and Trinity Mirror. She has written about the Manchester terror attacks and appeared on BBC Five live to discuss the aftermath, as well as interviewing an orthopaedic surgeon in Syria.