Fur ad in programme for Arts Festival sparks Peta outcry

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 19 October, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 19 October, 2008, 12:00am

Animal rights campaigners have called on arts lovers to protest after a fur industry advertisement appeared in the programme for the publicly funded Hong Kong Arts Festival.

The full-page advertisement by the Hong Kong Fur Federation appears in the booking guide for the 2009 festival, which was posted last week to thousands of people ahead of the event that runs from February to March.

It shows a blonde model wearing a mink jacket trimmed with fox fur and a leather and mink skirt. Accompanying the shot are the words: 'Hong Kong brings you the best in design and quality - wrap up in fabulous fur this season.'

The Hong Kong Fur Federation, which has 150 member companies, claims the festival - which is supported by HK$18.64 million of public money - is the ideal channel to promote its products.

However, the advert has sparked criticism from Peta - People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals - which says it believes many art lovers will be 'appalled' and should protest against the advert.

Ashley Fruno, senior campaigner for Peta Asia-Pacific, said: 'I think many arts lovers will be appalled. Artists and arts lovers are known for their progressive and forward-thinking attitudes, and fur is something that belongs in the past.

'The arts festival is about creativity, but there's nothing creative about millions of animals being drowned, beaten to death, strangled, gassed, electrocuted, and sometimes skinned alive.

'The government should implement a policy not to accept any ads that promote animal cruelty, and the fur industry is the definition of animal cruelty. People have every right to be concerned and angry, and should write to the programme organiser as well as voice their concerns at the events themselves.'

But Brenda Fung Miu-wai, manager of the Fur Federation, said she had received only compliments about the advert so far, with people saying how good the fur garment looked.

'We are a legitimate industry in Hong Kong and promote our products like everyone else, like the diamond and toy industry,' she said. 'We don't see there is anything wrong with that.

'There is freedom of trade. We have been running this federation for over 30 years and we have something like 150 members and run a high- profile international fur fair, which presents Hong Kong as a fur fashion centre.

'We believe the Arts Festival programme is the right channel to present our product. If fur is old- fashioned and out of date, how come so many big brand names are putting fur in their collections? Do you think Lacroix, Christian Dior and Jean Paul Gaultier would use fur if it were out of date?'

An Arts Festival Society spokeswoman said the advertisement conformed to advertising laws.

'With regard to the fur association products, as far as we are aware, animals are bred and farmed for their pelts, as other animals are bred and farmed for their meat. We would certainly not condone or promote cruelty.'