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Environmental News Service (ENS)

Fur-Wearing Celebrities Shamed on PETA's Worst-Dressed List


NORFOLK, Virginia - Wrapped in fur, Madonna
tops the 9th annual Worst-Dressed List just published by the nonprofit
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

The celebrities on the list were selected by visitors to the
PETA website, both members and others, whose votes were registered from
February 9 through March 4.

While the organization does not give out exact survey figures, PETA spokesman Michael McGraw says "thousands" of people voted.

Madonna in fur (Photo by Splash News courtesy PETA)

Also voted to the top of the list are twins Mary-Kate and Ashley
Olsen, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Elizabeth Hurley and Kanye West, the only man
in the top five group of fur-wearing celebrities.

Other entertainers on this year's list are Demi Moore, Ashton Kutcher, Mary J. Blige, and Kate Moss.

Madonna received more than three times more votes than any other
person, McGraw said. Madonna has often been seen dressed in fur in
films like Evita and in everyday life.

In the photo of Madonna PETA published with the survey results,
Madonna is wearing what appears to be a vintage garment made of black
colobus monkey fur.

According to the Vintage Fashion Guild,
"Monkey fur was very popular from the mid-nineteenth century through
the 1940's during which time the Colobus Monkey population dropped to
alarmingly low numbers."

Native to West Africa, the black colobus monkey is now listed as
Vulnerable to extinction on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

McGraw says PETA started published an annual Worst Dressed List "to
spotlight the relatively small number of celebrities who for their own
selfish reasons wear fur."

"These days celebrities are so revered and oftentimes their
style is emulated by their fans, so they have a responsibilty not to
wear products of extreme animal suffering," he said.

The Fur Information Council of America, an industry group, uses
the preferences of celebrities to sell fur products. "Celebrities are a
major influence on fashion, not just as role models for consumers to
emulate, but also on the garments being produced by designers," the
council says on its website.

Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen in fur (Photo courtesy FICA)

"Fashion darlings Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, continue to explore the
more avant garde and modern fur designs wearing a fox vest and sheared
mink jacket," the industry group says in an April 2008 article,
perpetuating the glamour image with statements such as, "Fur's spell of
glamour bedazzles celebrities."

According to the International Fur Trade Federation, 85 percent
of the fur industry's skins come from animals in fur factory farms,
rather than animals hunted or trapped in the wild.

Since December 2006, the federation has used an international
labeling program that "gives consumers confidence about the provenance
of the fur they are buying." The Origin Assured Label (OATM) informs
consumers that "the fur or fur product comes from a country where
national or local regulations or standards governing fur production are
in force."

With slogans such as "Fur - the natural, responsible choice,"
used by federation members such as the Fur Information Council of
America, the industry is attempting to remove the stigma of wearing fur
that PETA and other animal welfare groups hope will undercut the fur

PETA figures show that 73 percent of the world's fur farms are
in Europe, 12 percent are in North America, and the rest are in
countries such as Argentina, Russia and particularly in China.

"A lot of people don't realize that within the last five years
the Chinese fur industry has become so large that it eclipses all other
countries combined, including the U.S., Canada and Scandinavia," says

China has not a single animal protection law, he says, adding,
"We have certain protection for animals in the United States, but they
are just not enforced. In China, animals are smashed into the ground
and skinned alive while fully conscious."

Fur from these animals is so cheap that it winds up as trim on
jackets and gloves in discount stores at prices so low that consumers
buy these garments without realizing that that they are from real
animals, says McGraw.

One of millions of minks held in cages on fur farms around the world. (Photo courtesy PETA)

PETA says China supplies more than half the finished
fur garments imported for sale in the United States. The anti-fur
organization cites the first undercover investigation of fur farms in China, which produced a video, photos and other documents.

The investigation was conducted in China's Hebei Province by Swiss
Animal Protection/EAST International in 2004 and 2005 and updated in

The report's author Heinz Lienhard explains that the video and
photos were obtained by Asian investigators who must remain anonymous
because their lives would be in danger if their identities were known.

"Conditions on Chinese fur farms make a mockery of the most
elementary animal welfare standards," the undercover investigators
report. "In their lives and their unspeakable deaths, these animals
have been denied even the simplest acts of kindness."

"On these farms, foxes, minks, rabbits, and other animals pace
and shiver in outdoor wire cages, exposed to driving rain, freezing
nights, and, at other times, scorching sun," their report states.
"Mother animals, who are driven crazy from rough handling and intense
confinement and have nowhere to hide while giving birth, often kill
their babies after delivering litters. Disease and injuries are
widespread, and animals suffering from anxiety-induced psychosis chew
on their own limbs and throw themselves repeatedly against the cage

In 2006, the latest year for which estimates are available,
China produced four million fox pelts and approximately 10 million mink
pelts, a 25 percent increase over the previous year.

Globalization of the fur trade has made it impossible to know where fur
products come from," PETA says. "Even if a fur garment's label says it
was made in a European country, the animals were likely raised and
slaughtered elsewhere - possibly on an unregulated Chinese fur farm."

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