Fork Unstable Media / Hamburg
A moving tribute to victims of the fur trade wins Silver.

By Ann Cooper

Since the fashion world's recent decision to return to showing real fur, as opposed to fake fur, on the runways, small furry animals such as minks, chinchillas and foxes haven't stood a chance against growing consumer demand for their expensive pelts, leading to the resultant boom in fur farming. Hence Noah, a German group for animal rights, launching a campaign and asking Fork Unstable Media to design a Web site specifically to crusade against fur farming and fur used in fashion. "Pet Sematary, in memory of furry ghosts" (the spelling is apparently a tribute to both the Ramone's song and the Stephen King book/movie), is a virtual pet cemetery where animals are remembered online and it asks you to set an example by adopting a free grave and lighting a candle for a mink or a fox. Forget the usual bloody images of mutilated animals; all participants are linked via a glowing network of links. "Animals in fur farms are being cheated out of their lives," reads the copy on the Web site's opening page, while some suitable mood music?the sound of wind whistling through the trees--plays. "They are important resources for the fur industry and as such are cruelly killed and wasted by the hundreds each day. Thus, you can at least pay your respects to the nameless victims after they're dead," the copy continues.

The second page opens to a blanket of light-filled squares. Clicking on one square leads to another sheet with crosses in each square. Those that are claimed are illuminated by a candle. Clicking a link with no candle, makes a sign-in box appear, designating this grave of a mink or a fox, with a space to write an obituary. Moving the curser highlights the messages previous animal lovers have left. "I won't die that easily, see you tonight," reads one. "Rest in peace," reads many. Background information fills users in on the basics of fur farming, including a list of fur loving fashion labels. "In 2003 the global fur industry totaled some $11.3 billion US dollars," reads the copy. "Almost half of the animals are mass-bred in huge fur farms in Scandinavia, North America, Russia, Poland and the Baltic countries." Thus far, some 2625 of a potential 10,000 graves are already adopted. The aims, say Noah, is the end of cruelty towards animals and a ban on the breeding of fur animals. Fork, a nine-year-old Web site designer, donated its services as a mark of the "growing taste for displaced hair" and decided to work free-of-charge to "flay and flame the fur industry."

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