FUR COMMISSION USA COMMENTARY, FEBRUARY 9, 1999
Once again the Humane Society of the US is under the spotlight for the inaccuracy of its information – this time over a critter called a Furby.
Furbies are tiny North American rodents which, while not endangered, are hard to find these days. The epitome of cuteness, Furbies wiggle their ears, giggle, sneeze, burp, sing and speak. They were also a mega-hot seller in US department stores last Christmas, hence their rarity.
But are they as cute as they seem? Apparently not, says the HSUS, or someone doing a fine impersonation. In a December 16 press release, an organization calling itself the HSUS announced that Furbies had “tested positive for feline and canine DNA.” This startling revelation, backed up by a genuine quote from executive vice-president Patricia Forkan, dovetailed nicely with HSUS’s equally genuine call for retailers to remove all fur-trimmed items from their shelves.
Were Furbies really made from dog or cat hair, there would be nothing illegal in this. Unfortunately, however, they are made from nothing but the finest non-biodegradable petro-chemicals. “It’s 100 percent acrylic,” said a spokeswoman for Tiger Electronics, the toy’s creator, to the Chicago Sun-Times. “Yep, a lot of acrylics were killed in the name of Furbies.”
However, it appears that only extinct dinosaurs died for Furby fur. “It’s 100 percent acrylic,” said a spokeswoman for Tiger Electronics, the toy’s creator, to the Chicago Sun-Times. “Yep, a lot of acrylics were killed in the name of Furbies.”
HSUS is now denying responsibility. “We did not issue this press release,” it announces on its web site, “and want to state very clearly that this information is untrue. The HSUS has been assured by the toy’s manufacturer, Tiger Electronics, Ltd., that Furby toys are made from synthetic materials. We are working to track down the source of this misinformation.”
Presumably this disclaimer has headed off a law suit, but one wonders how far the HSUS really has to look for the “source of this misinformation”.
To cite just one of a host of documented cases of sloppy investigation, in 1995 an HSUS report “revealed” that in one year, American trophy hunters had imported 8,000 endangered porcupines from Botswana. In fact, Botswana had not exported one porcupine, but the HSUS had misinterpreted Fish & Wildlife data relating to porcupine quills. Yet it never issued a retraction and continued to circulate the unrevised report.
We wish HSUS luck in finding the source of the Furby misinformation, but their own investigators might not be the best people for the job!