Fox Tomek arriving at TIERART in Maßweiler, Germany

Rescued From Fur Farms: Two Foxes Find a Safe Home After Ordeal That Left One Half Blind

FOUR PAWS calls for an EU-wide ban on fur farms in the run-up to the European Parliament elections


Vienna, 7 May 2024 – Today two foxes formerly raised on fur farms, Ronja and Tomek, arrived safely at TIERART Wild Animal Sanctuary in Maßweiler, Germany. Their new forever home is run by global animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS. The time in captivity at Polish fur farms have left some deep marks, for both of them have hip problems and Ronja, an arctic fox, is blind on one eye. For the next couple of weeks the two foxes will be closely monitored by the animal caretakers and eventually prepared for socialization with other foxes. The European Citizen Initiative (ECI) “Fur Free Europe” has shown massive support with a total of over 1.5 million signatures handed to the European Commission in 2023, but to this day fur farms are still a grim reality in many EU countries. FOUR PAWS calls for a complete ban on fur farms and fur sales in the EU.

“We are so glad that Ronja and Tomek are finally in safety here in their species-appropriate home of TIERART. Their new future enclosure is about to be finished and will have everything what foxes in the wild are also seeking: natural soil for digging, a cave to hide in and a water stream, to have a bath during hot summer days. For thousands of foxes on Polish fur farms suffering in tiny wire mesh cages until eventually killed, this, sadly will never be a reality,” says Thomas Pietsch, FOUR PAWS expert on wildlife in the entertainment and textile industry.

Poland is the EU’s biggest fur producer

On fur fur farms in Poland about 3.5 million animals are killed annually. The vast majority is mink with around 3.4 million animals but also 30,000 foxes and about 5,000 raccoon dogs were slaughtered in 2022 for the production of unnecessary and easily replaceable fashion items. National legislation to prohibit fur farming is still being discussed in Poland.

“In the EU 19 Member States have already fully (16) or partially (three) imposed a ban on fur farming but there are still countries active in this cruel industry. One of the main culprits is Poland where these two foxes are originating from. Ronja will remember this for the rest of her life as she sustained an injury in the time of captivity, leaving her blind on one eye ever since. We on the other hand cannot turn a blind eye on the obvious, which is an EU-wide ban on fur farming, to save millions of foxes, mink and raccoon dogs from ending up as a piece of clothing after suffering lifelong horrors,”

Thomas Pietsch, Head of Wild Animals in Entertainment & Textiles at FOUR PAWS

Voices of over 1.5 million EU citizens are still unheard

With a stunning number of 1,502,319 supporters calling for an EU-wide ban of fur farming and sales the European Citizen Initiative “Fur Free Europe” is one of the most successful initiatives of its kind. However fur farms are still a grim reality in many* EU countries.

Pietsch concludes: “The participatory part of an ECI is only one side to the coin. The other is how this democratic tool finds its way into legislation, and the new EU institutions must do their job after EU elections took place in June 2024. The FOUR PAWS EU election campaign #DoBetterForAnimals offers animal lovers the opportunity to urge political candidates to consider animal welfare and to help creating a brighter future for all animals in the EU.”


In the EU foxes are bred and killed for their fur especially in Finland but also in Poland. The majority of foxes farmed in the EU are arctic foxes (Vulpes lagopus), referred to as blue foxes in the fur industry. A smaller number of red foxes (Vulpes vulpes), mainly referred to as silver foxes, are also farmed for their fur. In the fur industry, foxes are kept in wire mesh cage systems outdoors or in open side sheds. The cages are usually elevated above the ground in large rows, the common cage size is 0.8m² for an adult fox. Cages are usually equipped with nothing more than a water bowl, with sleeping boxes only being provided to females in the cubbing season. Like mink, foxes must live on a wire mesh floor and are fed a food mash that is smeared on the cage wires. Living on a wire mesh surface often damages and injures their paws, and the lack of movement damages their bones. Infected eyes, and other injuries like deformed legs are very common. Mortality rates are high among newborns and young cubs. The lack of places to withdraw leads to the foxes being extremely fearful. At the age of about seven to eight months foxes are usually killed by electrocution while restrained with neck-tongs.

*Currently, fur farming is still common in Denmark, Poland, Lithuania (ban as of 2027), Greece, Finland, Sweden, Spain and Latvia (ban as of 2028).

Michael Kellner

Michael Kellner

PR International Officer

+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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