Torturing animals to make an angora scarf

The pain experienced by these angora rabbits is no less extreme than that of minks

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The Independent Online

Warning: Viewers may find the video above distressing

“The screams stay with you. Each one hits harder than the last as they pulsate down your spine over and over again. It's audible agony. You grit your teeth, your muscles tighten and your skin crawls.” This was one viewer's reaction to PETA's new harrowing video footage of angora rabbits screaming in pain as their fur is violently ripped from their sensitive skin by workers on angora farms in China.

Not for the faint of heart, the video shows rabbits stretched out over wooden boards, their front and back legs tied together with rope and tethered in place. A worker then starts tearing out fistfuls of angora. The plucking speeds up – the worker is using both hands. Time is money. The ordeal won't stop until the rabbit is bare. When returned to their cages, some rabbits appear unable to move – they are scared stiff and in severe shock after this paralysing assault.

Rabbits who have their fur cut or sheared off also suffer. During the cutting process, they are usually tied down. Some are even suspended in the air. These sensitive and intelligent animals endure extreme stress, panting heavily and struggling to escape. It's a terrifying experience, especially for a prey animal, and the sharp cutting tools inevitably wound them as they struggle desperately to escape.

The rest of the time, the rabbits are confined to tiny, filthy cages that offer little protection from the elements, surrounded by their own waste. They are forced to spend their entire miserable lives standing on the thin cage wires that constantly press into their sensitive footpads, never having a chance to dig, jump, run around or be comfortable. The ones who survive these extremely stressful conditions are killed and replaced on most farms every two to five years. They have their necks broken, are hung upside down and have their throats slit. Their flesh is sold to local markets.

Rabbits are social animals who live with their families in underground warrens. They can hop faster than a cat or human can run. They communicate through body language and mark their territories as cats do, by rubbing their chins on twigs, rocks or other landmarks. Given the chance, they would spend their lives grazing, digging burrows, playing and enjoying the company of other rabbits – simple pleasures that the rabbits raised and killed for angora will never get to experience.

Today, most people are aware of the suffering of certain species of animals raised and killed for their fur because of countless investigations of fur farms all over the world and wouldn't dream of wearing it, but the pain experienced by these angora rabbits is no less extreme than the suffering of minks or foxes on the worst fur farms.

China is by far the world's biggest producer of angora – 90 per cent of the world's angora originates there. There are no penalties for the abuse of animals on farms and no standards to regulate the treatment of animals in China. The truth is that as long as shoppers in the West continue to buy angora hats, socks, scarves and other items, farmers will continue to profit from torturing rabbits.

It's easy to be disgusted by the suffering documented in this video, but these animals don't need our disgust – they need our action. Please refuse to buy angora, and share this information with your family and friends. Ask them to avoid angora, too. If you see it being sold, please complain to the store's management.