Animal rights protest over sale of ships' cats

The Highfield Campus at the University of Southampton, which is home to the George Thomas Building. Picture: Geograph

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Protesters descended on one of Portsmouth's most popular tourist attractions to voice their anger about a shop that sells rabbit fur.

Representatives from Southern Animal Rights Coalition set up a stall outside Portsmouth Historic Dockyard for a day to tell passers-by that Nauticalia sells toys made of fur from dead rabbits.

Nauticalia, which specialises in marine souvenirs, has said it will continue to sell the Intrepid Ships' Cats despite the protest.

Steve Greenwood, spokesman for the coalition, said: 'The use of real rabbit fur to make toys is cynical to the extreme.

'It is not acceptable and we wanted to make the public aware of what these things are actually made of.

'These are novelty items that could easily be made out of synthetic material. We want an explanation from Nauticalia about why they are doing it.'

Aidan Wallace, spokesman for Nauticalia, said there was no cruelty involved in the production of the ornamental animals. He said: 'I can confirm that the fur used in our models of Intrepid Ships' Cats from nautical history comes entirely from pelts that are the waste product of rabbit farming for meat.

'The farming is encouraged by the United Nations food and Agricultural Organisation for remote rural communities. The re-use of this, otherwise waste, product provides a useful additional income for these communities.

'As with the production of clothing and furnishings made from leather and sheepskin, the rabbits are not bred for their fur.'

Peter Goodship, Chief Executive of Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust, Nauticalia's landlord, said: 'We respect the right of Nauticalia to sell these Ships' Cats and we also defend the people that buy them.

'We are happy for the shop to sell them.'