Skip to Main Content

12 Surprising Animals People Actually Wear

As crazy as it might sound, some people STILL wear clothing made from animal fur or skin.

What they may not realize is that every fur-trimmed coat, leather bag, and wool sweater caused animals tremendous suffering—and took away their lives. That’d be like someone taking your life just to add a piece of your skin to an overpriced jacket that no one really needs—gross! If you’d never wear clothing made from human skin, you shouldn’t wear clothing made from animals, either.

Here are the top 12 animals you probably didn’t realize suffer for “fashion”:

12. Sheep

Sheep are gentle, sensitive animals who are extremely smart. They recognize the faces of at least 50 other sheep and can remember 50 different images for up to two years! When they’re sad, they hang their heads and avoid company, just like a lot of humans do.

Sheep are often used for their wool, which is made into hats, sweaters, and other “fashion” items. Those who are used to make clothing are typically forced to undergo a great deal of abuse. For example, shearers (the people who remove the wool from a sheep’s body) are paid by the amount of wool they cut, so they scramble to work as quickly as possible with sharp tools, often causing severe injuries to the sheep, including deep gashes.

11. Minks

Minks LOVE to swim, and they can dive to depths of 50 feet with just one breath! But those who are raised on fur farms are forced to live in small dirty cages until they’re killed for their fur. They aren’t even allowed to swim, which causes them lots of stress since swimming is what’s most natural for them.

10. Cows

Cows are gentle giants—large in size but sweet in nature. They’re curious, clever animals who enjoy spending their time together. They form complex relationships, very much like dogs in packs!

Cows on factory farms live in crowded, filthy conditions and suffer through painful procedures like branding, dehorning, and tail-docking (meaning their tails are cut off)—all without painkillers. After being crammed into trucks and carted off to the slaughterhouse, many are hung upside down and their throats are slit while they’re still conscious.

9. Rabbits

You might be thinking, “How could anyone ever wear a little bunny?!” But rabbits are killed for their fur, too. Bunnies are extremely social animals who love nibbling on snacks like apples and green veggies. Adopted rabbit companions form lifelong bonds with humans, play with toys, and can even learn to use litterboxes like kitties do.

But when they’re used for their fur, bunnies suffer terrible abuse. On angora fur farms, they usually live alone in small cages, and workers on some farms rip the fur out of their sensitive skin as often as every three months so it can be used to make sweaters, scarves, or other items. These bunnies actually scream in pain as their fur is being torn out.

8. Foxes

Have you ever seen one of these sleek critters making his or her way around your backyard? If so, we’re sure you’ll agree that foxes are truly beautiful animals. They’re highly intelligent and have big, bushy tails. If left alone by humans (their main predator), they can survive up to nine years in the wild!

Unfortunately, on fur farms, many foxes are kept in tiny, filthy wire cages their whole lives before being killed for their fur. Others are caught in traps, which crush their legs, until they die or trappers arrive.

7. Raccoons

In nature, raccoons can live seven years or longer. They’re smart, love frolicking and nesting, and have routines for finding food and shelter. Raccoons can even plot out and remember different hiding places for their food!

Like foxes, raccoons are hunted by humans using dogs, and many suffer in traps for hours before they’re killed. Some even chew their own leg off in an effort to escape.

6. Chinchillas

I know what you’re thinking: “That’s the most adorable little fluff ball in the history of the universe.” We agree. Chinchillas are shy, sensitive animals who can live up to 15 years in the wild. They’re considered social “chatterboxes” because they may spend all night “talking” to each other with vocalizations like barks, chirps, and squeaks. Aww!

Chinchillas are nearing extinction (meaning their entire population is in danger of dying out forever!) because people keep killing them for their fur. On a fur farm in Midland, Michigan, PETA investigators saw workers electrocute chinchillas and break their necks while they were still awake.

5. Snakes

Snakes are super-cool animals! They use their tongues to smell and their bellies and lower jaws to detect vibrations so that they know what’s going on around them.

But just like all animals used for clothing, snakes go through a lot of pain and suffering. They’re commonly nailed to trees and their bodies are cut open from one end to the other because people think skinning them alive keeps their skin flexible.

4. Beavers

Yes, we’re talking about those awesome creatures with the giant front teeth and paddle-like tails. Beavers are extremely gentle animals who love their families, remaining close with their mates and children for their entire lives.

Beavers today are in constant danger of being caught in underwater traps that cause them extreme pain and suffering, just so that they can be sold for their fur. In many cases, the traps fail to catch the animals the way they were meant to, and if they don’t kill them right away, they can slowly drown, suffering for up to 15 minutes before they finally die.

3. Seals

Canadian SealSea Shepherd Conservation Society

Mother seals and their babies form a very strong bond and recognize each other by sound and smell. Female seals nurse their pups for a few days before going out to sea to feed, leaving the pups in a nursery group or a protected area for three to five days. When the mothers return, each one calls her pup with a specific bark that the pup will answer to.

When harp seal pups are just a few weeks old, they lose their white baby fur—once this happens, sealers in Canada are allowed to beat and skin them so that their fur can be turned into coats and accessories.

2. Bears 

Can you imagine killing a bear (or any animal) for his or her fur? Neither can we. But for nearly two centuries, Britain’s Ministry of Defence has encouraged the slaughter of these animals in Canada so that their pelts can be used to make hats for the Queen’s Guard. Would you want to wear a dead bear on your head? No, thanks.

Bears are also cruelly killed for their skins. They’re either shot or trapped, sometimes for days, in painful snares. The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry reports that during hunts, as many as one bear out of seven is NOT killed immediately after being shot, and some escape wounded, often dying later from blood loss, disease, or hunger.

1. Dogs and Cats

That’s right—not even our furry BFFs are safe from the fur and leather trades. In China, millions of dogs and cats are killed in horrible and painful ways to be made into coat trim and other products. Dog and cat fur is often mislabeled as fur from other species and then sold right here in the U.S.

What You Can Do

Now that you know more about some of the animals who are killed for their skin or fur, YOU can help put a stop to this cruelty by never wearing any clothing made from animals and telling your friends and family to do the same!