Protests over jackets made from hamster fur

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Animal rights campaigners are protesting over the first sales in Britain of fur coats made from hamsters.

The coats, made from the skins of more than 100 hamsters, cost £1,750 each and are on sale at The House of Bruar near Blair Atholl, Perthshire.

The green jackets are made by the designer Lothar Repp and the skins, which form the lining, come from hamsters bred in Russia. Activists say the hamsters are placed in gas chambers in their hundreds and killed solely for the fur trade.

Doreen Graham, of the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said: "Hamsters are not bred for food so nobody can argue that it is a by-product. This is very gory and it is unacceptable in this day and age that any animal should be killed purely for clothing. It really smacks of the Stone Age. I don't know how these animals died but from looking at other fur farms many are gassed or electrocuted."

The campaigners have called for a boycott of the store.

Yvonne Taylor, a spokeswoman for the pressure group Advocates for Animals, said: "Having seen other fur farms, some of these animals are probably still alive while they are being skinned after gassing - their suffering must be horrendous. About 100 hamsters would be needed to make each coat."

A spokeswoman for The House of Bruar said: "We pride ourselves on our relationship with our customers and are concerned that we may have offended some people. We are constantly reviewing our product ranges in the light of customer feedback."