Furries refer to members of the Furry Fandom subculture, which is made up of individuals with an interest in anthropomorphic animal characters. These characters generally have human personalities and characteristics and are regularly translated into cosplay and fanart illustrations. The word furry has several meanings, dependent on the context in which it is used. Predominantly, it means "consisting of or resembling fur." Furries are also used to refer to the community of people interested in anthropomorphic animals and creatures who gather on the internet and at furry conventions.
Humans have created anthropomorphic animals for as long as our history goes. The earliest cave paintings feature creatures possessing both human and animal traits. Anthropomorphic animals as gods are an important part of many ancient cultures: Egypt, pre-colonized Americas, etc. One of the earliest examples of anthropomorphic literature is Aesop's Fables, which dates to around 500 B.C. Greece.
The 1980s saw the debut of several key comic book series starring humanoid animal characters, including Steve Gallacci's Albedo Anthropomorphics (June 1984), Kevin Eastman & Peter Laird's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (May 1984), and Stan Sakai's Usagi Yojimbo (first episodes appear in Albedo Anthropomorphics and Critters anthologies, circa 1984; standalone publications began in 1987).
Though all three series gained much praise, partly for their use of anthropomorphic characters in more mature and serious contexts, Gallacci's Albedo series is the one regarded as being the most influential to the creation of the Furry fandom. An illustration of Albedo's main character, Erma Felna, at the NorEasCon II World Science Fiction Convention in Boston, 1980, gathered significant attention convention and generated much conversation about the use of intelligent animals in science fiction and fantasy. Subsequent conventions (such as Worldcon and Westerncon) featured informal gatherings to discuss anthropomorphism further and share other independent anthropomorphic drawings and concepts.
Furaffinity is the Furry fandom's largest online community, hosting artwork, animations, literature, and music, all dedicated to the furry fandom. Created on January 16th, 2005, by Alkora as an alternative to DeviantArt and the, currently on indefinite hiatus, SheezyArt. Since then, it has suffered a few outages, most notably a month-long downtime over July 2008. The site's success also led to its own furry convention, FA: United, which was first held in August 2007 in Newark, New Jersey; drawing 310 attendees and 25 fursuiters in the parade; and was followed by another in August 2008. No event was scheduled for 2009 due to the economic downturn, but the convention became an annual event starting in 2010.
[FA: United 2007 Shirt]
WikiFur is a website dedicated to collecting and preserving information about the furry community and culture. The wiki is built on MediaWiki, a free software open-source wiki package written in PHP, originally for use on Wikipedia; using the Wikifur url since 2009. As of 2016, the English site has over 19,000 articles, its own community hub, and an international portal. Translation and localization efforts exist over 20 different languages, with the most notable being in Russian (5,100+ articles) and Italian (1,700+ articles).
e621 is a website designed to archive and redistribute furry and anthropomorphic content, infamously known for the abundant collection of pornographic materials in its gallery. After the shutdown of sidechan in 2007, e621 was created to host sidechan content. In July 2009, e961 was launched to be a safe for work counterpart to e621. However, the site got aliased to the original site in November 2009 due to traffic issues; it was rebuilt as e926 in 2012 and displayed strictly SFW content from e621.
Flayrah is an online furry news magazine consisting of community members' contributions. Its stories are syndicated by Furry 4 Life, FurNation, Furry News Network and Google News. Flayrah temporarily went offline at the end of June 2006 due to hosting issues but returned mid-August after a switch in webmaster, before switching a final time in November 2009 with a relaunch in January 2010. Since January 2010, it is run as an independent project; traffic has increased steadily since. It also won the 2011 Ursa Major Award for Best Anthropomorphic Magazine after deciding to move it from the Websites category. It was nominated again for the 2012 award, and won the 2013 award.
4chan and furries had been long-time rivals ever since 4chan launched. Furry porn had become a common thread topic on 4chan's /b/ (random) board over the years after its launch. In response to this, 4chan users began to post images of the F40PH diesel-electric locomotive. The phenomenon of posting train images began as early as December 2006, largely in reaction to the heavy influx of furry porn threads on 4chan's /b/ (random) board in honor of Furry Fridays, a 4chan tradition that had been around since 2005. At the time, anon posters felt that furries did not belong on /b/, which was considered a random board for anime and Japanese culture. Because of this, any furry thread would frequently end up flooded with photos of the Amtrak locomotive.
7chan is an imageboard site modeled after the Japanese site Futaba Channel and launched on September 25th, 2005, by founders Symbion and Zeneslev. The site rose to prominence in 2006 as 4chan users fled to 7chan for fewer posting restrictions. Unlike 4chan and other non-furry-friendly boards, 7chan maintained a dedicated, semi-protected, furry board (/fur/) under the "Porn" section. As with some 2ch furry image-boards, this board had no DNP or copy-protection rules, except for a rule that forbids the posting of art from furry artist Jeremy Bernal and the Pleasure Bon Bon website.
Fursonas (a portmanteau derived from the terms furry and persona) are furry characters, personas, alter egos, avatars, or identities assumed by a person or player normally associated with the furry fandom; based on various animal species (whether real or fictional). Players commonly include a realization of the player's mental impression of their fursona, commonly in an illustration or textual description. Fursonas are often used to roleplay or in other story-based mediums. A documentary about furries entitled Fursonas also premiered at the 2016 Slamdance Film Festival and was directed by Dominic Rodriguez. Originally a 12-minute short film, the film was later expanded into a feature-length documentary.
Fursuits are animal costumes worn for personal enjoyment, work or charity. Believed to have been coined in 1993, a fursuit is usually used to describe custom-made animal costumes owned and worn by cosplayers or members of the furry fandom and represent a standalone character (unlike mascot suits). Fursuiters may adopt another personality while in costume for the purpose of performance. Many suits include special padding or undersuits to give the character its desired shape. Other suit variations include the partial suit, which only has a mask, gloves, a tail, and possibly feet, with regular clothing covering the rest of the body; and Quadsuits, which are designed with arm-extending stilts so that the wearer can walk on all fours, for a more realistic appearance. Fursuit-related media is also documented on Fursuit Archive.
Furry conventions usually schedule fursuit parades into their list of events, where every fursuiter who has brought his or her own fursuit and would like to show it off is invited to join the parade. At the beginning or the conclusion of the parade, there is commonly a group photograph taken of all fursuiters. The idea of a fursuit parade originated at Anthrocon 2006.
Fursecution (a portmanteau of furry and persecution) is a term that describes the perceived persecution of furries by elements outside the fandom. The topic of fursecution is commonly debated by furries and critics alike, with some claiming it to be a legitimate form of discrimination, while others find it a severe overreaction. Furries believing in the existence of fursecution will sometimes sardonically refer to non-furries as "mundanes," a demeaning term borrowed from the science fiction fandom to refer to people not part of the fandom. The use of the term "fursecution" has been documented in Usenet posts as far back as 1998.
A popular piece commonly associated with fursecution is Standing Proud (shown below), a drawing of an anthropomorphic fox standing in front of the gay pride rainbow-colored flag and created by Taurin Fox in 2004. Although created to be a statement about what the author considered the dire state of gay rights, the piece's popularity has made it subject to misrepresentation, parody, and ridicule.
Renamon is a Digimon from the series Digimon_ which resembles an anthropomorphic fox. The character has become an icon of the furry fandom and arguably the most well-known Digimon. Many Renamon works can be found on a variety of websites. As of May 2015, DeviantArt alone hosts over 27,000 images tagged as Renamon, FurAffinity has over 9,000 works, and e621contains over 5,000 images tagged under Renamon and also has the character mentioned on the site's help page. On both FurAffinity and e621, Renamon takes up most Digimon fanart, with over half and two-thirds on respectively e621 and FurAffinity as of May 25th, 2015.
Yiff is a slang word used in the Furry fandom with various meanings. Although originally being something as simple as a greeting in the furry fandom's foxish language, it has over time gained more explicit meanings: referring to sexual intercourse between furries and the onomatopoeic sound produced by that; likewise turning yiffing into a term for sexual intercourse between furries. A widespread word in furry lore, Yiff can be used as an interjection, an adjective, a verb, or a noun.
“Yiff in Hell, Furfags” is a phrase used by those that oppose the furry fandom, directly aimed towards furries as a message to take the activities commonly associated with yiffing elsewhere. On 4chan, “Yiff in Hell” is typically found in furry threads, used as a protest towards furries in an attempt to lower the amount of furry content posted on the site.
Knotting is a term used by members of the furry fandom to describe a person receiving a canine's penis, with a knot describing the section at the base of a canine’s penis that swells up upon ejaculation. The earliest known use of the phrase in a sexual context was posted on the alternative sex story site asstr.org on March 8th, 2002.
Gatherings & Conventions
Occasionally members of the fandom will have small group gatherings in various places to exchange artwork or hang out and do everyday activities, with or without fursuits. These gatherings aren't restricted to small groups, however. There have been many conventions over the years. Anthrocon is the world's largest furry convention. The event occurs in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, each June or July, first held in 1997 in New York State, and draws over 5,000 attendees annually. Anthrocon 2016 drew 7,310 attendees, with 2,100 fursuiters participating in the fursuit parade. Other more notable conventions include Eurofurence, a furry convention held in changing places in Europe annually since 1995 with over 2,500 attendees in 2016, making it the largest furry convention outside the United States; and Midwest Furfest, which takes place in Rosemont, Illinois each December since 2000, increasing in popularity from 388 attendees in 2000 to 5,600+ in 2015, making it the second-largest furry convention in the world.
[Anthrocon 2016 Fursuit Group Photo]
April Fur's Day
April Fur's Day (a pun on April Fool's Day) was a 2005 4chan event where the imageboard added /fur/, a board dedicated to furries, to its site, in an attempt to stop the posting of furries to the /b/ board according to the site's moderators. Due to the addition of the board on April first, many 4chan users believed it to be an April Fool's Day joke which would be gone by April 2nd, resulting in an explosive increase in popularity. However, these doubts decreased on April 2nd when the board was still around. It wasn't until April 3rd that the board disappeared, alongside the banning of every poster on the board with no distinction between posters. Although the joke hasn't been repeated since, it did cause doubts over the creation of pony-oriented /mlp/ board in February 2012, which many posters believed to be a similar "ban trap" during its first few days even after 4chan's creator, moot, attempted to debunk these claims.
Anthrocon 2007 Raid
The 2007 Anthrocon Raid was an organized attempt by /b/ users from 4chan and 7chan to "raid" the convention. The protesters stood outside the convention, holding signs and wearing outfits referencing the "Yiff in Hell, Furfags" phrase and Pool's Closed meme. Although the raid's success can be questioned due to it consisting of only 3 people, their presence managed to gather the attention of numerous convention-goers attending the event throughout the day.
Midwest Furfest Poison Gas Attack
The 2014 Midwest Furfest Poison Gas Attack was a chlorine gas attack that took place at the Hyatt hotel in Rosemont, Illinois, where the 15th annual convention was being held for the weekend. The attack sent 19 people to the hospital and made headlines the following day. Throughout the next day, the story continued to circulate among the furry communities on the web, along with several news photographs of people standing by outside of the hotel while still dressed in fursuits.
#TonyTigerGate was the hashtag name given to a scandal surrounding the massive block of furry Twitter users @RealTonyTiger, the official Twitter account for Tony the Tiger brand of Kellogg’s breakfast cereal, in response to a flood of lewd and lascivious demands tweeted at the corporate account by members of the furry fandom. Although the raid already gained traction in November 2015, the blocking began months later, in January 2016. While the account was blocking a substantial number of its followers considered furries, the owners made little distinction between those who actually tweeted inappropriate messages at the account and other followers who simply identified themselves as furries. Following the blocks by @realtonytiger, several furries started looking for a new Twitter account to follow, eventually stumbling across the official Twitter account of Chester Cheetah, the official mascot for Cheetos brand snacks, who replied positively to the influx of tweets.
Scalies is a furry term used to describe anthropomorphic creatures of the reptile and amphibian variety and furries that identify themselves as such or prefer the concept of such beings over furred characters. As the name implies, scaly characters tend to have a coating of scales much like the animals they represent, instead of fur like normal furries. Dragons are commonly considered as the most popular type of scaly.
Kemonomimi, literally meaning "animal ears," is an anime and manga term that describes characters that possess animal-like features such as ears or tails. Kemonomimi characters typically appear predominately human except for the added animal-like qualities, unlike kemono characters who possess a large percentage of animal parts in ratio with their human parts. The most popular types of kemonomimi are Catgirls (Neko or Nekomimi) and Foxgirls (Kitsune or Kitsunemimi).
The concept has some connection to the furry fandom, although fans of both genres often question this due to the different scales of anthropomorphism. Due to this, various Furry Scales (also known Anthro Scales) exist, referring to a series of charts and discussions regarding the artistic continuum between humans, furries and animals.
Pokémon is a media franchise spawned from a role-playing video game series developed by Game Freak and published by Nintendo beginning in 1996. Pokémon takes place in a world populated by humans and many species of creatures called Pokémon. Pokémorphs, also known as anthro-pokémon, are fictional anthropomorphic species of Pokémon. Most Pokémorphs resemble normal furries, except that they were created based on the stock Pokémon creatures. Certain types of Pokémon are more popular as Pokémorphs than others, commonly depending on the species they are based on and their official character model (examples shown below).
[Arguably the most common Pokémon in anthropomorphic art, from left to right: Lopunny, Lucario, Zoroark, Braixen]
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (MLP:FiM) is a Canadian/American flash cartoon series based on the My Little Pony universe. Since its on-air debut in October 2010, the series has become extremely popular across the Internet by gathering a massive online following; fans outside the show's target demographic, especially teen and adult male fans, have come to be known as "bronies". The brony fandom has a significant crossover with the furry fandom, with 21% of bronies considering themselves furries as well according to the 2014 State of the Herd Report; who are represented through the fandom's active anthropomorphism scene on both MLP:FiM and furry orientated websites. Many things familiar to furries have equivalents in the brony fandom, such as an active art scene, costuming (from simple accessories to fursuits), conventions, and an adult scene. Despite this, critics on both sides prefer not to be associated with each other, albeit arguably due to possible negative advertisement. This gives their own fandom due to the focus placed on specific aspects of the other's fandom. The comparison was questioned again following the announcement of My Little Pony: Equestria Girls in December 2012, a companion series featuring the cast of MLP:FiM in a highschool setting while taking on humanized forms.
Zootopia is a 2016 Disney 3D computer-animated comedy film set in a world populated by animals who possess the level of intelligence comparable to that of humans. The main story follows Judy Hopps, a bunny rookie police officer, and Nick Wilde, a fox con artist. Since its announcement, the film has been widely discussed online due to its appeal to the furry community. Following the film's overall positive reviews from critics and growing fandom following its release, it also became a running gag amongst the furry fandom for having an underlying purpose of "recruiting the next generation [of furries]."
- Pittsburg City Paper — "Animal Passions: The furries come to town" / 2006-06-29
- Pittsburg Tribune-Review (via Wayback Machine) — "Furries purr over Pittsburgh reception" / 2007-07-06
- BBC Magazine — "Who are the furries?" / 2009-11-13
- Bizarre Magazine — "Super Furry Animals" / 2008-05 (PDF)
- Hartford Advocate (via Wayback Machine) — "Hell Hath No Furries" / 2007-11-01
- Montreal Mirror (via Wayback Machine) — "Welcome to the jungle: Montreal's furries and furverts defend their unusual lifestyle" / 2001