The slow redemption of furry fandom | Sunday Observer

The slow redemption of furry fandom

4 December, 2022

Furry fandom is most commonly defined as a community made up of individuals who have an interest in anthropomorphic animal characters.

At the peak of its visibility on the internet, the furry fandom was, and to an extent still is, one of the most hated and ridiculed communities online. However, while the mainstream is only aware of furries with regards to their most outlandish aspects like the fursuits, the adult content and other troubling behaviour, this usually only applies to the most visible and talked about parts of the fandom. In reality, the furry community is much broader than most might anticipate, with estimates counting anywhere between a hundred thousand to a million furries globally.

Broad definition

Furry content refers to any media revolving around anthropomorphic animal characters, but with a broad definition, it is very likely that most people could very easily count as enjoying it. A lot of media falls under the category of furry, including many mainstream media properties such as ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’, ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’, ‘Lion King’,’ Kung Fu Panda’ and Zootopia as they all revolve around anthropomorphic animal characters.

But liking that content doesn’t automatically mean you are part of the fandom. The furry fandom consists of people who have come together to form a community over their mutual obsession of furry content.

Members of this community, known individually as furries, are usually identified by certain characteristics, though importantly these cannot be broadly applied to every individual. Most furries create their own fursona, a furry ‘persona’, as a means of expressing themselves within the community.

These fursonas have their own original names and unique personalities vastly different from the themselves, and can be represented by any animal regardless of its actually a furry mammal or not. Creatively inclined furries with their own fursonas would craft or commision original stories and artwork with their fursona.

The most well known part of the furry community are the fursuits, which are mascot style costumes of animals, usually of a furry’s fursona. But despite how often people associate furries with fursuits, only a small portion of furries actually have them, usually because most cannot afford to commission one.

Fursuits usually need to be custom made, and while certain businesses exist to facilitate them, they still cost exorbitant amounts of money to make even partial suits. Others simply don’t need fursuits for their self expression, it is simply the most visible and talked about. That and the adult artworks commissions for furries, which sometimes overlap with the criminal and disturbing acts of a small portion of the community. Though the actions of the few reflect badly on the whole fandom, it’s not representative of the whole.


Though anthropomorphic animal characters have been around forever, the furry fandom only came about during the 70s and 80s with popularity of the independent comic movement at the time. Anthro characters were especially popular during that time, especially with the success of the TMNT giving rise to a deluge of imitators.

The popularity of furry content was so explosive, the first furry exclusive convention was created in 1989, and to this day conventions have become a popular activity for the furry community with thousands attending every year.

Though the furry community was growing strong, the backlash against it was growing as well. Many mainstream news sources and TV shows began covering it, often in shock, disgust or simply to ridicule. Outside of their own community, furries were mocked at every corner of the internet during the 2000s.

The hate reached a breaking point in 2014 when a popular furry convention suffered a gas attack, an act of domestic terrorism that drew sympathy from most people. Since then, opinions towards the furry community have gotten far less radical, though they are still considered deviant and strange.

The perception of furries has not changed much but feelings towards them have mellowed out. This is largely due to the blending of demographics in the media, as was the case with the release of the Zootpia movie, a mainstream Disney movie that was openly marketed towards furries. Another popular internet figure, Sonicfox is an openly gay furry considered to be one of the all time greatest fighting game players in the FGC. While furries are still far from being a respected community, they have come a long way from being the butt of every joke on the internet.