Paris, France
February 12, 2004


In a pre-Valentine's Day protest, animal rights activists stripped down to their red bikini underpants Thursday on the Champs-Elysees, urging couples not to buy gifts of fur to express their love.

"Fur out, love in," read heart-shaped signs that the activists - two men and two women - held over their bare chests exposed to the wintry chill. They kneeled together on a pink mattress placed outside Louis Vuitton's flagship store.

"These guys are out here braving cold temperatures baring their skin to try to save some animal skins," said Andrew Butler, a spokesman for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which organized the protest.

Camera-toting tourists, and some ladies in fur, were among those who stopped to stare at the eye-catching protest, which lasted 20 minutes.

"It's a free world after all," said Scottish tourist Leonora Conetta, 56, wearing a fur-collared coat. "I respect everyone's opinion."

   --Associated Press

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