Life and death in fur farming

Jo-Anne McArthur's Image

Jo-Anne McArthur (Canada) shows American mink kits fighting for space in a nest box on a fur farm.

Conducting investigations into animal cruelty is dangerous, but for Jo-Anne it is important to document these conditions in order to instigate conversation and change. Here at a Swedish mink farm, a sign above the cramped, inhospitable cage indicates two kits have died.

Legislation changes in recent years require that the cage size is now larger, and a two-storey box is a legal requirement for adult mink, with no more than two adults per cage. However, injuries do still occur and the standard of life remains poor. Mink farming is an industry where, traditionally, the welfare of these semi‑aquatic, naturally solitary mammals has not been a priority unless it affects the fur.

In 2020, scientists discovered that minks could catch the COVID-19 virus and that the virus could mutate in mink and be transmitted to humans. In response, Denmark - then the largest mink fur producer after China - shut down its industry, killing all 17 million animals, with hundreds of thousands more killed across the Netherlands and Spain. In Sweden, after a temporary ban on breeding, the government allowed some mink farms to reopen in 2022.

How you can help

  • Try to buy cruelty-free alternatives to fur and animal products. Examples include fabrics made from recycled plastic and leather alternatives made from pineapple leaves or mushrooms.
  • Keeping animals in such close quarters encourages the spread of disease, avoid supporting practices like industrialised farming wherever possible.
  • Use your voice – sign petitions, write letters to your elected officials and share this image with family and friends. Encourage people around you to become active supporters of animal welfare too.

See all the images in focus.

Behind the lens

Jo-Anne McArthur

Jo-Anne McArthur


Not only is Jo-Anne a photographer and speaker, she's also the founder of We Animals Media. She has been documenting the plight of animals on all seven continents for close to two decades. Jo-Anne was the subject of the 2013 documentary The Ghosts in Our Machine and is the author of three books: We Animals, Captive and Hidden : Animals in the Anthropocene, which she co-authored with Keith Wilson and which was awarded Photography Book of the Year by Picture of the Year International.

Image details

  • Nikon D700
  • 17–35mm f2.8–4 lens
  • 1/250 sec at f6.3  •   ISO 3200
  • Lindåsen, Sweden
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