Chinchilla Farm Investigation Prompts Call for Fur Ban in Romania

Undercover video found isolated animals in filthy, stacked cages.

chinchillas in cages in Romania
Chinchillas in cages in Romania.


Undercover investigators at fur farms in Romania found chinchillas living in filthy, stacked cages with no ventilation and with mounds of excrement piled on the floor underneath them.

Humane Society International/Europe filmed the conditions from April to October last year at four fur farms in Transylvania and nearby regions.

They recorded adult chinchillas desperately gnawing at the bars of cages and babies struggling to move on the wire floors, with their legs slipping through the cage grates.

Although chinchillas are very sociable animals, they were kept isolated from each other at the farms except when mating or raising offspring.

The investigation has prompted members of the National Liberty Party to submit a bill to ban mink and chinchilla fur farming. HSI/Europe has submitted evidence to Romania’s prime minister, formally requesting a fur farming ban.

At the same time, so far several hundred thousand people have signed a European Citizens Initiative calling for a ban on fur farming throughout the European Union. The initiative must have 1 million signatures in order to get a formal response from the European Commission.

“When discussing fur farming, it is often mink who are the focus of attention and chinchillas are somewhat neglected. Our investigation is one of the very few that prove chinchillas, as well as any other species kept for production of fur, suffer immensely,” Yavor Gechev, HSI/Europe communications director, tells Treehugger.

“The investigation is important also for the fact that it shows that it is impossible to achieve even minimum animal welfare standards in fur farming and the only way to end this cruel practice is a full ban.”

If the bill passes, Romania will become the 20th country in Europe to ban fur farming, including France, Ireland, and Italy. Discussions about a federal ban are also being held in Lithuania, Poland, and Spain. Germany and Switzerland have strict regulations that have effectively ended the practice and three more countries (Denmark, Hungary, and Sweden) have ended farming certain animals.

Minimal Conditions

hands holding chinchillas


More than 100 million animals, including chinchillas, foxes, and minks, are raised and killed for their fur around the world, according to HSI.

Mink farming tends to take place in rural areas where animals are kept in rows of cages. Chinchilla farming, however, often happens in building rooms in residential locations.

The conditions noted in the investigation don’t meet the “Five Freedoms” of animal welfare, which define the minimal conditions an animal needs to have for a healthy physical and mental state when cared for by humans. They include freedom from hunger and thirst; discomfort; pain, injury, and disease; fear and distress, and the ability to express normal behavior with enough space, property facilities, and the company of other animals.

“The factory farm style caging in which these chinchillas are forced to exist, piled high floor to ceiling, fails to meet almost every measure of the internationally recognized Five Freedoms of Animal Welfare,” Alastair MacMillan, a veterinary consultant for HSI, said after viewing the undercover footage.

“Chinchillas are naturally very sociable animals, yet on these fur farms, they are kept in solitary caging. They have a strong desire to run, jump, burrow, forage for food and regularly take sand baths, and yet their tiny cages with only the very minimum of enrichment, means they are unable to exhibit these natural behaviors to any meaningful extent, which must cause them significant frustration and psychological distress.”

MacMillan adds that standing for long periods on the wire mesh floor can be painful and injure their feet.

The investigation also uncovered that some fur farmers said they break the animals’ necks, which is not an approved method to end their lives.

“Cervical dislocation—breaking the animal’s neck—is an entirely unsuitable method of killing chinchillas, and if these animals are routinely being killed this way, as some of the fur farmers admit, that will surely be a horrific end to a miserable life,” MacMillan says. 

Ending Fur Farming

chinchilla cages in Romania


An economic analysis by HSI suggests that ending fur farming would have a minimal impact because the industry has been declining. Some farmers said that chinchilla farming is no longer viable as a full-time job. They said prices per pelt have dropped substantially and they have cut production.

In 2019, California was the first state to ban the production and sale of new fur products. The legislation will go into full effect in 2023. Hawaii and New York are also considering fur ban legislation.

Many fashion designers and retailers have announced fur-free policies. In the last several years, Burberry, Canada Goose, Chanel, Gucci, Oscar de la Renta, Prada, Valentino, and Versace have taken fur out of their lineups.