"It's just a group of people enjoying life": The culture of furries

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Furries. They're a subculture that has shifted into mainstream interest over the past several years, but what are those people who dress up as animals all about?

For self-confessed furry Dan Harmer, it started off as a hobby but over the years it became "more of a lifestyle".

"The term furry ... it can be a very, very broad definition," he says.

"It's just a group of people that share a similar interest to anthropomorphic characters and hang out with each other and have a good time."

Anthropomorphic characters are fictional animals with human characteristics, such as the cast of Looney Toons, The Muppets or Bojack Horseman.

Harmer has found dozens of others like himself and organises a weekly meet up for Brisbane-based furries, which attracts close to a hundred attendees each time.

"In Australia alone there's at least two to three thousand known furries," he says. 

"I don't even want to think about how many there could be in the rest of the world: hundreds of thousands at least. Possibly more."

Venetia Robertson from the University of Sydney has studied the subculture intimately and looked at some of the commercial aspects as well. 

"A fursona is obviously a portmanteau of furry and persona used to describe the animal character that someone has developed, usually themselves," she says. 

"In Australia alone there's at least two to three thousand known furries."

"It can be based off a fictional universe that already exists or it can be entirely of their own making.

"Sometimes this can involve getting a costume made to represent that fursona.

"One of the trademark features of the furry fandom is some people who have the money or the resources are able to get fur suits made which are full mascot costumes.

"They need to be costume made to reflect that person's fursona and they can be very expensive, upwards of $5000."

One of the most widely written about aspects of the furry subculture has been the sexual preferences of those who participate in it, but Harmer says that has been blown out of proportion.

"Honestly the whole fetish side of things, it's a bit of a myth. There's not much to it all," he says.

"I'm not going to deny it, that it is a part, but it probably is less than one per cent. It's more about the community getting together and enjoying life."

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