NEWS AND OPINION: Steven Fry, a well-respected and indeed loved, highly intelligent British celebrity, actor and comedian, has condemned the UK’s Ministry of Defence for insisting that their guards continue to wear bearskin hats made from genuine Canadian black bear pelts when synthetic alternatives made to a high standard and meeting requirements of drying speed, compression and water absorption have been rejected without explanation.
The MoD has said nothing about them. They simply take an entrenched view and refuse to budge while, it appears, ignoring the animal cruelty aspect of the process and in defending the wearing of genuine bearskins on the basis that the bears have been killed in “legal and licensed hunting”.
Comment: the fact that the bears have been shot in Canada under their wildlife hunting rules (where they love to shoot wildlife) does not exempt the process from been criticised for animal cruelty. It is very hard to defend the MoD’s insistence on their guards wearing Canadian black bear pelts on their heads when there are perfectly acceptable alternatives in this modern world. Perhaps they simply don’t want to modernise.
It has to be said that the MoD is historically well recognised in making terrible decisions about the purchasing of armaments including military vehicles. There are numerous case histories of poor decision-making. The story in question is simply another case in point.
Steven Fry says that the King’s Guard is bringing “dishonour” to Britain. He added that:
“Tradition is never an excuse for cruelty. I’m joining the call for the Ministry of Defence to stop using the fur of slaughtered wildlife and make the switch to humane faux fur. To do otherwise would be unconscionable and un-British. Every day that our soldiers wear hats from the fur of slaughtered bears brings dishonour to our country. It’s time for a changing of the guard.”Stephen Fry
PETA has been fighting this battle for a long time. They claim that the MoD incentivises bear hunting and they have failed in their attempt to stop the use of bearskin in 2022.
Steven Fry is a former host of QI and an environmentalist. He supports PETA’s campaign and he has narrated a PETA video showing black bears in Canada being hunted with a crossbow before being dismembered. You can watch it on YouTube by clicking on this link.
My thanks to The Times for this story about which I have written before. It needs to be pushed and emphasised.
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