Thanks to PETA and the animal-loving British public, bears finally had their day in Parliament! A milestone debate took place in the House of Commons, during which Members of Parliament from several political parties scrutinised the Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) continued use of real bear fur for the Queen’s Guard’s caps and spoke passionately about the need to switch to faux fur.
The Parliamentary Debate
Earlier this year, PETA, together with Britain’s Got Talent judge Alesha Dixon, launched a government petition calling for the ceremonial caps to be replaced with faux fur. The petition, which was co-sponsored by Virginia Lewis-Jones, the daughter of the late Dame Vera Lynn – fondly known as “the Forces’ Sweetheart” – and former soldier Andy Knott MBE, chief executive of the animal welfare charity League Against Cruel Sports, rapidly hit over 100,000 signatures, triggering the important debate.
At the event, MPs pointed out how preposterous it is that the British Army is spending taxpayer money on caps made from the fur of slaughtered bears. They pointed to the world’s first faux bear fur – created by PETA and luxury faux furrier ECOPEL – which looks and performs exactly like bearskin. And they rightly questioned why this fabric, which has been offered to the MoD free of charge, has not been marched into service, sparing bears’ lives and saving taxpayer money. The MPs spoke of the need for the Ministry to work with PETA to make the switch to faux fur, allowing the iconic caps to endure but in a way that is in keeping with modern values.
“The use of real bearskin in ceremonial caps is antiquated, costly, and unnecessary. It should not take 100,000 signatures and a debate for the government to acknowledge that.”
– Margaret Ferrier
“To stick with something through familiarity and to continue to waste taxpayers’ money does not strike a chord with Britain as a strong, advanced, forward-looking nation. It smacks of a country stuck in the past and refusing to move with the times.”
– Christian Wakeford
“It is clear that none of us likes the idea of a bear being killed to make a hat. Some of us think it is unforgivably cruel and inexcusable. Others think that while it may be unpleasant, it is justified by tradition. It was previously impossible to reconcile those two positions, but no longer.”
– John Nicolson
“We [Labour] recognise the real concerns about the use of bearskin for ceremonial caps. It is understood that to make just one cap takes the skin of at least one bear. As such, we strongly believe that no bear should ever be hunted or killed to order for use by the Ministry of Defence …. It is incredibly important that traditions develop and adapt if they are to survive.”
– Stephanie Peacock
Caps of Cruelty
The MoD claims that bears are killed as part of Canadian government culls, but PETA has found no evidence that any culls of this sort exist in any province or territory of Canada.
Hunters obtain permits to bait and kill bears, whose fur is then sold to auction houses.
It takes the skin of at least one bear to make a single cap. Some bears are shot several times before they die, and some escape only to bleed to death.
MoD Requirements Met
The faux-fur fabric meets all of the MoD’s requirements: it matches the exact length of real bear fur, is 100% waterproof, and performs similarly in water shedding and compression tests. It even outperforms bear fur in drying rate testing.
But the Ministry is still desperately trying to cling to its cruel tradition.
PETA will continue to push the Ministry to act. If you would like to keep up to date on the progress of this campaign following the parliamentary debate, you can subscribe to our e-news.
You can also urge Boris Johnson to instruct the MoD to end its use of real bear-fur hats:
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