Fur trade, worth $30 billion a year blames video for fashion fur bans. The global fur trade is hitting back against claims that animals are skinned alive for their pelts to supply the fashion industry.
A team of top lawyers and media consultants has been hired to “explode the myth” that fur is taken from animals.
The 2009 video went viral when it showed in excruciating detail a raccoon being skinned alive for its fur.
But investigators hired by the International Fur Federation (IFF) say they have unearthed damning evidence that the video was a stunt.
And they have released a documentary film exposing the culprits behind the major international conspiracy to destroy the reputation of the fur trade.
The documentary was produced by a retired senior producer for ITV news in the UK, who was responsible for some of the broadcaster’s biggest undercover scoops in a 20 year career.
The gruesome 2009 footage, captioned, ‘A shocking look inside Chinese fur farms’ caused widespread public revulsion and led to fur being dropped from the catwalk by Gucci and Burberry.
Legislators have also used the footage to try to implement fur bans in various regions.
After years of silence on the controversial footage, the fur trade says it now has “irrefutable proof” that the barbaric act was staged by animal rights activists in a deliberate attempt damage the industry.
The IFF sent a team to China to investigate and the men who skinned the animal alive were tracked down to a rural area outside Beijing.
The IFF says the men confessed on video that they had been bribed by a woman, understood to be an animal rights activist, to carry out the horrific stunt.
The two men provided a lawyer with sworn affidavits which the IFF says is damning evidence of a conspiracy to damage their industry.
The two men, Ma Hong She and Su Feng Gang, were working in the Shancun fur market, a few hours drive from Beijing in 2009, when they were approached with a bribe.
Mr Ma said: “We were working that day and a man, and a woman approached us.
“They had a camera and were filming.
“We asked what “are you doing?”, and the woman said her grandfather had never seen a raccoon skinned alive.
“So, she asked if I would do it, and she’d like to film me doing so.
“I told her we can’t do that because the animal might bite us.
“She said she’d buy us a good lunch, or she’d give us a few hundred Yuan to buy our own lunch.
“After we finished the skinning we felt uncomfortable. It was cruel for the animal.
“Even now, after so many years, every time I think about what we did it makes me uncomfortable.
“It is something we regret.
“This video was posted on-line. When we saw the video, we felt unwell just to realise that we had been used by these people.
“I worked in the skinning area for two years. We’d never skin animals alive, and I’ve never seen anyone skin an animal alive.
“When they came to us they enticed us to make this video and it has badly affected the fur market.
“We really hate them. They are fake animal protestors.”
Mr Su added: “Mr Ma was my boss and he wanted me to skin the animal alive, but I said it was too cruel, and how much pain would the racoon feel.
“Ma said they’d give us a lot of money – so I did it.
“While I was skinning the raccoon, the woman was filming.
“The man went to another stall and was also filming.
“After a while Ma came to me and showed me the video, and I said, ‘we have been used by these people’.
“When I realised they had shared the video on-line to everyone and knowing how it had hugely affected the fur industry, I hated them.”
Mark Oaten, IFF CEO, said: “We have endured 13 years of lies and smears against our industry but we have finally ended this once and for all. We aim to explode the myth with irrefutable proof that the animal rights movement is behind a cynical stunt to discredit our industry.
“We even know the identity of the animal rights movement behind it and we will be exposing them in due course.
“We do not skin animals alive and animal rights activists are aware of this. This is why they have had to stoop to bribery and to try to damage our industry.
“We want to send a clear signal to anyone who seeks to deny consumers the freedom of choice by these quite wicked and frankly, twisted tactics – if we find you out, we are coming for you and we will expose you. And if you repeat this behaviour, we will sue you for damages.
“Our industry is no longer prepared to sit back and allow these fanatics to march into the boardrooms of designers and bandy around a rag-bag package of lies and prejudice about our business.
“My team has gathered a solid dossier and we look forward to challenging every animal rights group which uses it.”