Images: The New Paper
The popular rabbit bag charms sold in Singapore are made of real rabbit fur, the Society For The Prevention Of Cruelty To Animals (SPCA) has claimed.
After conducting its own tests on the products, the results “strongly suggest that the product is made of real animal fur”, SPCA executive director Jaipal Singh Gill told The New Paper.
The society first raised the issue in a post on its Facebook page on July 25.
Dr Jaipal said most retailers claimed they bought the charms from China, adding that the way animals are farmed for fur is cruel.
“In China, the industry is largely unregulated. The animals are often kept in very poor conditions and slaughtered in ways which cause much suffering,” he said.
“It is important we consider the effects our consumer choices have on animals, people and the environment, and aim to be responsible consumers with regard to all our purchases.”
Animal Concerns Research And Education Society (Acres) deputy chief executive Anbarasi Boopal echoed Dr Jaipal’s concerns:
“Animals are usually farmed in inhumane conditions, such as in small wire cages with no opportunities to express natural behaviours…
“Often, the killing may include cruel methods such as beating to death or electrocution or worse, skinning alive.”
Dr Jaipal said SPCA did the tests as there was “conflicting information provided by sellers”.
“Some claimed the fur was fake while others said it was real, so we decided to conduct our own in-house test,” he said.
These bag charms, which are about 8 to 12cm long, are sold in shopping malls and pushcart stores around Singapore. Displayed prominently at the front of most shops, they come in a variety of colours and are sold for as low as $15.
They are shaped to look like rabbits and some have false eyelashes attached.
SPCA was alerted to this by concerned members of the public in early July, said Dr Jaipal.
According to its Facebook post, real rabbit fur would have tapered ends, as opposed to synthetic fur’s uniform ends. Also, the internal fibre morphology (structure of fibres) of real rabbit fur is significantly thinner than that of synthetic fur.
When TNP visited the retailers in Bugis, we found that the charms from Korea cost $28 each while those from Hong Kong were $20 each. Of the six shops visited, four said the fur was fake.
A retail assistant, who wanted to be known only as Ms Li, said her boss had checked with the supplier.
“If it were real, I wouldn’t sell it,” she said.
Rabbits were shaved
A retail assistant at another shop said: “The supplier told me the rabbits were shaved, so there is no harm involved.
“Why are we making such a big fuss about it? They’re just rabbits.”
Another retailer said there should be no shame in buying such products: “My supplier promised me that these are real. But there is no issue since other people also sell cow and crocodile hides – it’s in no way unethical.”
Ms Boopal urged Singaporeans not to buy the rabbit bag charms.
“Even though it may seem like a small product, in the bigger picture, as long as there is a demand, the cruelty will continue,” she said.
“That simple choice will go a long way in helping animals that suffer in these facilities.”
Dr Jaipal said the SPCA would be contacting sellers of such products to dissuade them from bringing in products made from real animal fur.
“If the buying stops, the suffering will, too.”
This story was originally published in The New Paper. For more stories like this, head to www.tnp.sg.