Angora Sales Halted Over Rabbit Cruelty Video
Nearly two dozen high street retailers have stopped selling products containing angora wool after footage emerged showing scenes of cruelty to rabbits.
Video showing the mass production of angora in China taken by the charity People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) shows rabbits appearing to scream in pain as they have their wool ripped out.
Marks and Spencer, Top Shop, H&M, Primark and Next are among brands that have agreed to suspend the use of angora products until the allegations of unethical treatment can be investigated.
Mimi Bekhechi, Peta associate director, told Sky News: "This is the first time the conditions in which these rabbits live have been exposed.
"Angora wool has only recently become popular and I think most people haven't any idea where it comes from.
"Companies can't claim to have an animal welfare policy if they use angora wool. Because of the way the rabbits are treated, it's as bad as wearing fur."
Peta investigators examined the conditions in 10 angora farms in different regions of China and found similar conditions in each.
The charity said hundreds of rabbits were squashed into cages for their entire lives, only being removed every 60 days to have their fur plucked painfully from their bodies.
Most failed to survive beyond three years old - often being killed if they lived longer - even though rabbits in the wild live for up to 10 years.
The video footage shows the animals emitting a squealing sound as they are tied down and left red raw as their fur is torn from their bodies.
Peta says that as many as 50 million angora rabbits are kept in Chinese farms to supply the fashion industry - the only way the previously expensive fur has been able to become so widely available.
Until the 1960s, small scale French farms provided most of the world's angora - a particularly soft type of wool - but countries outside Europe which lack animal welfare laws have since taken over most of the supply.
Peta said Asos, the online retailer, has just become the first store to agree to remove all angora products from shelves permanently.
Among the other stores operating on the British high street that have suspended use of angora are: New Look, Wallis, Dorothy Perkins, Miss Selfridge, Evans, boohoo, Coast, Warehouse, Oasis, Esprit, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, Whistles, Marco Polo and Boden.
The full video, which contains distressing scenes, has had nearly a million views on YouTube.
:: Watch Sky News live on television, on Sky channel 501, Virgin Media channel 602, Freeview channel 82 and Freesat channel 202.