PYEONGCHANG (Reuters) - Animal rights activist Ashley Fruno braved bone-numbing temperatures in Pyeongchang, host of this month’s Winter Games, to call for an end to the fur trade on Tuesday and said she wanted to send a message that fur has no place at the Olympics.
With the mercury plunging to minus 10 Celsius and clad only in white underwear, ‘bunny ears’, and a warm pair of gloves, Fruno spoke to reporters for about 15 minutes about People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ (PETA) stance on fur and other issues in front of the Olympic rings at the Alpensia Resort.
Formed in 1980, PETA makes no apologies for using scantily-clad women to advance animal rights, though it flies in the face of the mushrooming #MeToo social media campaign aimed at building a culture of respect for women.
Celebrities including Beyonce and Lady Gaga have been taken to task by the group for their fashion choices while members have also disrupted fashion shows around the world.
In 2008, two PETA members jumped onto the catwalk at an Alexander McQueen fashion show in New York with blood-red paint on their hands, holding signs saying, “Fur on your back, blood on your hands”.
“Unfortunately fur is being worn by many Koreans,” said Fruno on Tuesday, adding that China, the host of the 2022 Winter Games, is one of the world’s largest fur exporters.
“We want to make sure that everyone, whether they’re here as a local, as a tourist, as the Olympic committee, knows that they shouldn’t wear any fur.
“This is animal cruelty in 2018, we don’t need this.”
Posing for selfies with Olympic volunteers and drawing a crowd of curious policemen, a shivering Fruno also spoke briefly about South Korea’s controversial dog meat trade, but said PETA had no plans for a campaign on the issue during the Games.
“We are against the dog meat trade but today we are talking about fur,” she said. “Animal cruelty is animal cruelty. Whether it’s dogs, or rabbits, minks, raccoons.”
Fruno told Reuters that the reaction to PETA’s style of protests in Asia was different from in North America and Europe.
“Animal rights is a newer concept in Asia, and while people are more shocked, we also find that many people just haven’t considered these issues and are very sympathetic and open when they are made aware,” she said in an email.
She added that PETA’s campaigns over the last 15 years in Asia were gaining traction and that they had contributed to a dramatic decrease in fur sales in China.
Editing by Sudipto Ganguly