Interview: Johanna Korpela, Advisory Veterinarian, Fin FurLab
“In my work, if I want to know something about animal welfare, I don’t make assumptions, I use evidence based research.” Johanna Korpela Advisory Veterinarian, Fin FurLab
Johanna is an expert veterinarian working with Saga Furs’ Parent Organization, FIFUR. She takes part in a number of different types of farm visits, from treating animal sickness and preventative health to co-hosting open farm days, where communities are welcomed in to observe and ask questions.
Korpela recently joined an international farm audit from a big global fashion brand as an onsite animal expert. In addition to providing language interpretation for the information and opinions of the Finnish farmer, Korpela’s role was to answer questions arising from the animal welfare and farm management perspective as well as just generally help the delegation interpret what they were seeing. With these kinds of visits, often including politicians, customers, the media and others, Korpela sees her role as key to further opening the transparency of the fur and fashion industry.
Korpela is also active in the scientific research side, including applying the new WelFur protocol to her work. “If I want to know something about animal welfare, I don’t make assumptions, I use evidence based research.” An investigation into nesting boxes for female foxes is in an example of a recent project with the Luova Research Farm. “We wanted to see how nesting boxes could be made differently to support better birthing conditions for female foxes,” Korpela explains. The team carried out trials in various test conditions, and are now assessing the results.
“During my veterinarian studies,” Korpela explains, “I was always more drawn to the study of production animals than companion animals. And I’ve always seen fur farming as no different from raising any other production animals.” Korpela grew up in a fur farming area of Finland where the industry was critical for the livelihood of the people.
“I find my job to be important and valuable,” Korpela affirms, “I want my industry to be well-regulated and transparent.”