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Last Updated: Friday, 22 October, 2004, 18:03 GMT 19:03 UK
Actress lobbies Queen on fur hats
Pamela Anderson
Pamela Anderson is supporting the campaign by Peta
Actress Pamela Anderson has sent a petition to the Queen calling for the traditional bearskin helmets worn by her Foot Guards to be replaced.

The ex-Baywatch star has gathered 200 signatures from her fans for the petition which was sent to Buckingham Palace with a personal note on Friday.

Anderson, 37, is calling for a switch from the use of Canadian bear pelts to synthetic materials in the headwear.

The towering black hats date back almost 200 years.

This is an issue Pam is very passionate about

The petition reads: "We the undersigned urge the Queen to call on the Ministry of Defence to cease the use of real fur on the uniforms for the regiment of Foot Guards."

Anderson, who is in Britain to promote her new novel, is backing a campaign by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

The Canadian-born actress collected the signatures at a book signing in London's Virgin Megastore on Thursday.

The hats are a key part of the uniform of the five Guards regiments - Coldstream, Grenadier, Irish, Scots and Welsh - and are quintessential to traditional ceremonies like Trooping the Colour.

'Satisfactory alternative'

A Peta spokesman said Anderson was "very passionate" about the issue.

She said: "We have been working with Pam on finding a replacement for the bearskin hats.

"Peta has worked with a top faux fur manufacturer to produce a material that is now being field tested by the Ministry of Defence to replace bear fur.

Coldstream Guards
The hats date back almost 200 years to the Battle of Waterloo

"During this process bears continue to be killed to make these ceremonial hats."

But a British Army spokesman said a synthetic alternative had yet to be found.

He said: "The army has been working closely with Peta because they say they can produce a satisfactory alternative using artificial fibre.

"So far, Peta has failed to do so."

But no bears were killed "simply for the caps", rather they were killed to control the population, he said.

"Where we can use an artificial alternative we do so," he added.

Drummers in marching bands now wear fake leopard skin while the smaller bearskins worn by the King's Troop are no longer made from beaver fur.

A Buckingham Palace spokeswoman said it was not yet known whether a petition had been received.

Animal welfare groups say 40,000 black bears are killed every year, which they say is far more than is needed to control their numbers.

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