Arts festival organisers may ban fur ads in future guides

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 02 November, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 02 November, 2008, 12:00am

Hong Kong Arts Festival organisers are considering whether to ban fur advertisements in future programmes after one showing a model in mink and fox fur left animal rights groups outraged.

The advertising policy review comes after a second animal rights group complained and called for reassurances that no such adverts would be carried in future.

But the Hong Kong Fur Federation, which placed the advertisement in the booking guide of the publicly funded 2009 Hong Kong Arts Festival, said it believed the same advert would appear in the festival's next publication in December.

Members of Peta - People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals - also warned that the advert could prompt protests at the festival in February and March.

A second group, Animals Asia, wrote to arts festival organisers expressing concern that the festival was 'condoning the brutal fur trade' by running the advert.

Animals Asia director of animal welfare and education, Mark Jones, said he had received a letter from festival executive director Tisa Ho saying organisers were reviewing their relationship with the Hong Kong Fur Federation.

Mr Jones said: 'The cruel and exploitative practices of the fur industry have no place in the fashion or entertainment industries, and the promotion of these activities has no place in a publication promoting an arts festival.'

He said the group's research had found that the fur industry in Asia and beyond perpetrated atrocities on both wild and domesticated animals, with animals crammed into tiny cages, electrocuted and sometimes skinned alive.

Peta senior campaigner Ashley Fruno supported the call from the Animals Asia group and warned yesterday that 'the arts festival shouldn't be surprised if they have protesters in bloody fur coats or nude activists chanting 'I'd rather go naked than wear fur' at their next event'.

The Fur Federation, which has 150 member companies, claims the festival - supported by HK$18.6 million of public money - is the ideal channel to promote a legitimate industry.

Federation manager Brenda Fung Miu-wai said representatives had talked with festival management.

'We had a meeting to pass on the factual information about our industry rather than just letting them listen to one side talking about horrible videos, etc,' she said.

'I think they are neutral. They do not want to take a stand on whether they support the fur industry and they do not want to analyse whether the anti-fur people are speaking the truth, or if they should listen to them telling them what to do.'

Ms Fung said that as far as she knew, the federation's advert would appear in the next arts festival programme, which will be published in December.