Frustrations Of Fur-Farmed Mink
This study examines mink raised on fur farms. It has been argued that if they are not caught in the wild and have never known anything but a cage, particularly if they are the offspring of caged mink, then they will not have their regular natural inclinations. To test this, the authors gave mink enhanced cages and examined whether they experienced stress when those enhancements were removed. The mink became especially stressed when access to a water pool was blocked, indicating that that their natural instincts and desires remained even if born and raised in captivity.
Mink were given enhanced cages that included a water pool, toys, a tunnel, and other novel objects. These objects, along with access to food, were each removed and their stress levels were examined by measuring the levels of cortison in their urine. The removal of food and the water pool resulted in the highest levels of stress for the mink.
According to the study summary:
“Our results indicate that fur-farmed mink are still motivated to perform the same activities as their wild counterparts, despite being bred in captivity for 70 generations, being raised from birth in farm conditions, and being provided with food ad libitum. The high level of stress experienced by mink denied access to the pool, rated as the most valuable resource, is evidenced by an increase in cortisol production indistinguishable from that caused by food deprivation. These results suggest that caging mink on fur farms does cause the animals frustration, mainly because they are prevented from swimming.”