New Zealand fashion designer Annah Stretton is being called a "hypocrite" for advocating animal rights but posing atop a bearskin rug for a newspaper. Animal rights activists are condemning the Waikato designer for her contradictory stance.
The Sunday Star Times has published an article about the designer ahead of New Zealand Fashion Week. In the article, she claimed that her favourite New Zealander was "anyone who fights for animal rights in this country."
She also said in the article that she was a "big fan of taxidermy," which might explain why the accompanying photo was of her and her two Boxer puppies on a bearskin rug.
If the two statements seem contradictory, it's probably because they do. Annah acknowledged that she's aware that some people perceive the photo and the message conflicting, especially as she has been actively advocating against animal testing.
She explained on her Facebook page that the bear rug in the controversial photo was a Canadian Black Bear, which she purchased over five years ago at an auction that was selling taxidermied animals.
"This bear was killed as a result of the Canadian Conservation Department completing a cull of Black Bears as a consequence of over population in one of their National Parks. A small number of bears were deemed unsuitable to be transported to other parks and government authorisation was given to cull these.
"I do not condone the killing of animals for sport and this bear was not a sports trophy," she wrote, adding that she chose the photo as "both Boxer puppies love to sleep on the bear rug."
Helping You Help Animals animal shelter founder Carolyn Press-McKenzie told Fairfax NZ News that Annah's action was a "jaw-dropping moment."
"I couldn't fathom that someone could be so hypocritical. It's just nonsensical and that she has two passions that are so contradictory."
Annah's explanation of the animal rug just invited more negative reactions on her Facebook page.
"Sickening and stupid Annah. Will you taxidermy the dogs when they die and lounge all over them? Perhaps time to take a look at the vast canyon between the talk you talk and the walk you walk," user Ursula Lilley wrote.
"Buy (sic) purchasing these products does it not encourage further killing of these beautiful creatures? Even if this particular bear was culled legally what happens when others want a rug like it and can't afford one? They go and get there (sic) own," Jo Cullen added.
The increasing number of negative comments forced Annah to release another statement, this time she admitted her regret on choosing the photo.
"Given the benefit of hindsight, I absolutely would not have chosen the picture that I used in the Sunday Star Times article. The damage has however been done and I have endeavoured to support this with some history around the bear and its purchase," the designer stated.
"I cannot change people's opinion. I can however continue to support animal rights organisations as I have in the past both through advocacy and financially."
Annah's show at the New Zealand Fashion Week is titled "Annah in Wonderland," and will be held on September 5, Thursday at the Viaduct Events Centre in Auckland. She will also hold a wedding for an Australian lesbian couple at her "Come on Oz, Say I Do" catwalk show on September 7.
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