The international animal AnimaNaturalis, founded in Spain, has made public the footage it obtained investigating five mink farms located in the Spanish autonomic regions of Galicia and Castilla y León. The footage, recorded in the winters of 2020 and 2021, shows animals, kept under unhygienic conditions, performing stereotypic behaviour (a sign of difficulties in coping with captivity). 

Minks are a semi-aquatic species highly skilled in climbing, but on fur farms, they spend their entire lives kept captive against their will in rigid metal cages. This lack of stimuli is what causes the stereotyped behaviour recorded. 

In one of the farms investigated, hidden cameras recorded the handling of minks by the operators and their killing in a gas chamber — which is a common method of slaughtering animals in fur farms, along with electrocution. In February 2021, Covid-19 was found in mink on the farm of Navatalgordo (Ávila), which led to the culling of 1,010 animals. In the same months, 17 more outbreaks were detected in Spain, of which 15 occurred in Galicia, one in Aragon, and another in the Valencian Community.

COVID infections of minks were also found in other countries, and led to the closure of 73% of the 2,700 European farms. While some countries accelerated the process to close the industry, Spain did not. Even though Royal Decree 1628/2011 bans the creation of new mink farms since 2016, extensions have been granted that have allowed the doubling of the number of breeding females in the case of a Galician farm. Every year, about 750,000 animals are raised in Spain in 32 fur farms. In 2021, 26 of with were exploiting American mink, while the rest were mainly rabbits and chinchillas.   

The organisation launched this video report to support the European Citizens’ Initiative Fur Free Europe which aims to close all fur farms in the EU. In 13 of the 27 EU states, fur farms are already banned.

Jordi Casamitjana
“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.