National Geographic : 2016 Sep
112 national geographic • September 2016 first inspect and grade thousands of farms. When I visited a mink farm in Denmark with Steen Henrik Møller, an Aarhus University agronomist helping to develop the protocol, the inspection was dauntingly thorough. He checked the nest box attached to each cage for size and the amount of straw for winter insulation. He examined the animals for body condition, inju- ries, and repeated back-and-forth motions that indicate stress. He inserted a tongue depressor in each cage to see if the animal responded with fear, aggression, or curiosity. A WelFur visit requires about six hours to inspect a 120-cage sample for 22 features. “I hope we don’t find anybody in the worst category,” the farmer ven- tured tentatively, and Møller replied, “I hope we do, because if the system cannot distinguish among farmers, it doesn’t work.” Either way, will people who buy fur actually care? “You’ll get a much different answer if you ask in Shanghai or in Zurich,” said Tage Peder- sen, chairman of Kopenhagen Fur. “But in the future more and more people will care. Not just for fur, but for everything we buy. They will ask at the shop, Is the animal welfare OK? And if the retailer says yes, they’ll ask, How do you know Luxe handbags, arrayed like sacred objects, hold the attention of a visitor to a Bianchi e Nardi showroom. Run by the grandchildren of the founders, the 70-year-old firm has two factories in Florence that craft about 80,000 handbags a year from ostrich, crocodile, lizard, python, and other skins.