Mink at a fur farm

COVID-19 detected on Dutch mink farms:


FOUR PAWS demands ban on fur farms and the sale of fur

28th April 2020 – After COVID-19 infections were found on two mink farms in the Netherlands, global animal protection organisation FOUR PAWS is calling for a rapid ban on fur farming in China and other countries. On Sunday April 26, the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture confirmed the discovery of the COVID-19 virus after symptoms such as respiratory problems and increased mortality were observed in the animals. Some workers also showed symptoms but have not been tested so far.

During the 2003 SARS pandemic, the virus was detected in racoon dogs, amongst others, which are kept in their millions on fur farms.


“On fur farms, thousands of animals such as mink, racoon dogs or foxes are crammed into tiny cages under horrific conditions. Many animals suffer from injuries and diseases. Fur farms must be banned not only from an animal welfare point of view but also to stop the development and spread of dangerous zoonoses, such as the current COVID-19 virus," 

- Thomas Pietsch, Wildlife Expert at FOUR PAWS

One of Germany's most renowned corona experts, Professor Dr Christian Drosten, who directs the Institute of Virology at the Charité Hospital in Berlin, also suspects racoon dog farms as a possible source of the COVID-19 virus, according to the British newspaper The Guardian.

China as a fur hotspot

China is the world’s largest consumer of fur products, and one of the largest exporters in the world. In 2018, an estimated 21 million mink skins, 17 million fox skins and 12 million racoon dog skins were produced there. The Chinese government, however, has currently exempted the fur industry from restrictions on wildlife use as a result of the current pandemic and has listed fur animals as farm animals. 

"It is not only wildlife markets that must be closed for safety reasons. The fur industry needs to be shut down too and its role in COVID-19 has to be investigated as quickly as possible," says Pietsch.

Australia and fur

Here in Australia, a 2019 joint investigation between FOUR PAWS and the Animal Justice Party found animal fur being sold as ‘faux fur’ here, misleading the public across a number of popular Victorian retail outlets.

"Fur farming is factory farming, and is a potential breeding ground for pandemics. Australia must ban all imports and sales of fur – for both the animals, and to help stop the spread of dangerous viruses," said Elise Burgess, Head of Communications at FOUR PAWS Australia, the Australian representative of the global Fur Free Retailer initiative which has signed the likes of Prada, Gucci and H&M to its fur free commitments. 

A recent (2019) YouGov opinion poll found 88% of Australians who are aware of animal cruelty issues in fashion, are concerned about the welfare and treatment of animals in the fur industry.

Alongside FOUR PAWS, Victorian MP Andy Meddick and NSW MP Emma Hurst are calling for bans on fur within their states. 

"By echoing their calls, together we can help to save millions of animals from a lifetime of abuse. FOUR PAWS is urging Australians to call on Premiers Gladys Berejiklian and Daniel Andrews to lead the way, and make their states the first to ban the sale of fur," said Burgess. 

Over 5,000 people have already joined the call at  

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Press contact

Elise Burgess

Head of Communications

tel: 02 9198 4417

M: 0421 225 876

FOUR PAWS Australia
GPO Box 2845 

Main Office tel: 1800 454 228

FOUR PAWS is an international animal protection organisation with headquarters in Vienna, Austria. Founded by Heli Dungler in 1988, the organisation strives to help animals in need through work which is based on substantiated research and scientific expertise, as well as national and international lobbying. FOUR PAWS focuses on animals who suffer under human influence: stray animals, animals used in fashion, companion animals, wild animals and farmed animals.

With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Hungary, Kosovo, Netherlands, South Africa, Switzerland, Thailand, Ukraine, United Kingdom, USA and Vietnam, FOUR PAWS aims to help animals in need directly and quickly.