Merino sheep on a field

Online Retail Giant Zalando Sets Example Against Animal Suffering in Merino Wool

FOUR PAWS 'Brand Letter of Intent' calls on Wool Industry to stop mutilation of lambs


Vienna, 8 July 2022 – FOUR PAWS, the global animal welfare organisation is delighted that  Europe’s biggest online retailer, Zalando, has signed the ‘Brand Letter of Intent’ committing to transition towards 100 per cent certified mulesing-free wool within their own brands by 2023. Mulesing refers to the mutilation of lambs and is only practised in Australia, the world’s largest producer of merino wool by far.

"This is a huge success that Europe's largest online retailer is ensuring more animal welfare in its production chain. We have been campaigning against mulesing for many years and are seeing massive inroads with fashion brands across the world. We are particularly pleased that Zalando has now signed our 'Brand Letter of Intent'. It shows that our commitment against mulesing has now also reached the big brands and retailers. The Australian wool industry can no longer ignore this. It must finally put an end to this outdated and extremely painful procedure for Merino lambs and transition towards pain-free alternatives," 

says Rebecca Picallo Gil, FOUR PAWS wool campaign.

By now, 45 international fashion brands have expressed their intention to exclusively source certified mulesing-free wool in this open letter to the Australian wool industry set up by FOUR PAWS. Besides Zalando, these include brands such as Adidas, Hugo Boss, Icebreaker and H&M. FOUR PAWS wants to mobilise as many brands as possible to publicly speak out against animal suffering in production and also initiate corresponding processes in their companies. The aim is to put economic pressure on the Australian sheep wool industry to end mulesing as well as to send a signal to woolgrowers that a growing number of brands demand this transition.


70 per cent of the world’s Merino wool production and as much as 80 per cent of the popular fine Merino wool used in the global fashion industry come from Australia – the only country in the world where mulesing is still practised. In this process, large strips of skin are cut out of the hindquarters of few-week-old lambs in great pain and usually without anaesthesia – this is to prevent infestation by blowflies. There have long been alternatives, such as sheep breeds that are more resistant to parasites than the over-bred Merino sheep. Fashion brands must send clear signals to the sheep wool industry and make clear their intention to demand only mulesing-free wool in the future. Only then will the sheep wool industry have the economic security to renounce mulesing in production and to offer mulesing-free wool. This is why the open letter from brands worldwide was sent to the industry.

Consumers can also take action by explicitly asking brands for reliable certifications when buying clothes and support current efforts to encourage the booming sportswear industry, which is using merino wool as activewear-fiber, to exclude mulesed wool.

Only recently FOUR PAWS started to rally against Nike, the world's largest sportswear manufacturer, who has not committed to phase out the use of mulesed wool in its product range.

Merino sheep on the pasture

Call on more brands to end mulesing

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Michael Kellner

Michael Kellner

PR International Officer

+43 (1) 89 50 20 20

+43 (0) 664 504 38 97

VIER PFOTEN International 
Linke Wienzeile 236
1150 Vienna, Austria

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FOUR PAWS is the global animal welfare organisation for animals under direct human influence, which reveals suffering, rescues animals in need and protects them. Founded in 1988 in Vienna by Heli Dungler and friends, the organisation advocates for a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy and understanding. The sustainable campaigns and projects of FOUR PAWS focus on companion animals including stray dogs and cats, farm animals and wild animals – such as bears, big cats and orangutans – kept in inappropriate conditions as well as in disaster and conflict zones. With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, the UK, the USA and Vietnam as well as sanctuaries for rescued animals in eleven countries, FOUR PAWS provides rapid help and long-term solutions.

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