Story By: Darko Manevski, Sub-Editor: Joana Mihajlovska, Agency: Real Press
This footage shows the appalling conditions suffered by minks on a farm in Latvia where they are beaten, forced to mate until their genitals are destroyed, and then killed in a gas chamber.
In the video titled ‘Born in a Fur Farm’, the Latvian animal welfare organisation ‘Dzivnieku Briviba’ went undercover at the Baltic Devon Mink farm in Latvia between April and May this year.
A worker at the farm summarises the lives of the mink, saying: “They do their jobs and when mating is over they will all be slaughtered. That’s their life.”
As the minks scurry back and forth in their tiny squalid cages, the narrator explains that these animals would normally live fairly solitary lives swimming and hunting in rivers.
On the farm, their lives are different, with them spending almost their entire lifecycle in cages and only being taken out to breed or be slaughtered.
The farm operates as a breeding ground where the primary objective is to get female mink to breed as often as possible.
The mating season is the busiest time at the farm with staff working overtime, grabbing male minks and throwing them into tight cages with the females.
The males often attack the females leaving them gravely wounded and ripped to shreds.
The injured mink are then left to die slowly in their cages as one worker says: “Here we are the only vets.”
The near-constant breeding results in the animal’s reproductive organs often becoming inflamed and infected.
In these cases, the mink are either killed or left to die slowly as the farm no longer has any use for them, according to the organisation.
The employees are said to be expected to work long shifts often without breaks doing whatever they can to force the animals to breed.
The animals constantly resist, biting the workers and trying to escape, leaving the workers bleeding and frustrated which allegedly only escalates the level of aggression the animals are exposed to.
Once the breeding season concludes, the animals that survive are allegedly disposed of using a gas chamber.
As the gas chamber is rolled into the farm one of the workers says: “F*ck, I f*cking like it – the kill box has arrived.”
The screeching mink are then stuffed into the ‘kill box’ where, due to their ability to hold their breath underwater for a considerable amount of time, they spend upwards of 10 minutes slowly suffocating.
Thomas Pietsch, wildlife and fur expert at the FOUR PAWS animal welfare organisation, told Newsflash: “More and more countries are taking action against mink farms.”
He added: “Only recently, Estonia banned fur farms, and the Netherlands has also brought forward a ban. Denmark, Sweden and Italy have suspended mink farming until the end of the year.”
The issue became a concern for governments after several cases of COVID-19 were reported at mink farms all across Europe.
Pietsch said: “400 mink farms across Europe where outbreaks of coronavirus have been reported, millions of affected animals – these staggering figures show how dangerous fur farming is for public health.”
He added: “These outbreaks pose a significant risk not only to the animals themselves but also to farm workers and residents living near the farms. This animal cruelty needs to be banned.”
The footage was captured at the Baltic Devon Mink where an estimated 60,000 mink are held and, according to FOUR PAWS, is owned by the Van Ansem Group, a company registered in the Netherlands.
Pietsch said that the footage has been seen by the Latvian Minister of Agriculture but it is unclear if any legal action is going to be taken against Van Ansem or the farm itself.