When the fur flies

When the fur starts to fly

Shocking news of the week comes from Denmark – somewhat surprising in itself given the country’s relative low profile. But, who knew that the Danes were the world’s biggest breeders of mink?

17 million of the poor blighters are to be culled after the discovery of a mutated version of coronavirus. The Prime Minister, Mette Frederiksen’s warning that the mutation posed a “risk to the effectiveness” of a future Covid-19 vaccine was a death sentence for the mink.

This news has received remarkably few column inches given the inexhaustible appetite for Covid-related stories. The media has though, been momentarily fixated on the fur flying across the Atlantic, where two weasels are fighting in a sack.

17 million? At 50 mink per coat (the number it takes apparently) that’s 340,000 coats, stoles and other furry items that the world clearly cannot do without. By “world”, obviously we mean China and Hong Kong, which, being the biggest market, must now be the only places where it’s deemed acceptable to be seen dolled up in the unfortunate mustelid’s former coat of its own.

Intensive farming of any kind is a pretty gruesome business, the only possible mitigation being that the world really does need to eat.

A nice polyester/cotton fleece from Cotswold Outdoors will keep us warm, if hopelessly unfashionable. Designer woollens and cashmere will keep you keep warm and fashionable.
But, the notion of 50 million mink being despatched every year for their pelts is surely wholly unsustainable.

Anyway, having caught the virus from humans, the minks’ revenge is to have generated a potentially deadly strain of it all by themselves.
With more outbreaks now reported in other countries, with any luck, this’ll spell the end of this grisly trade.

Care home care
Meanwhile, the fur is also flying at home, this time, albeit metaphorically, in care homes.
In the face of pretty much no government guidance, care home operators, Labour and a number of charities have described the suggestions, including floor-to-ceiling screens, designated visitor pods and window visits, as impractical. Alzheimer’s Society has said it “completely misses the point”. 

I attended a Zoom organised by my mum’s care home this week. Their goodwill and desire to keep their residents happy and cheerful is heartbreaking. They know better than anyone how important it is for their charges to have human interaction with their families, and how quickly the elderly become despondent and listless without it.

But care homes are caught between the desire to do the right thing, and their fear of being sued lest any visitor brings in the virus.
As the hugely impressive manager of my mum’s home said, her staff are highly skilled and can organise visits with minimum risk.
It’s a tough call for carers, residents and families alike, but on balance, a blanket ban on all visits seems counter-productive.