An insight into the furry fandom: Surrey Live reveals what it's like to be a 'furry'; SurreyLive spoke to Surrey's very own furry from Walton-on-Thames to find out more about this unusual hobby.
When you hear the word 'furry', you may naturally think of an animal.
However, what you may not know is that the word 'furry' can be used to describe someone who enjoys dressing up as an animal, or someone who has an interest in anthropomorphised animals.
There is even a community of 'furries' who regularly meet up at social events, gatherings, or large conventions in a variety of different costumes.
Many think it is a purely sexual fetish, and although some engage in the hobby sexually, the majority enjoy it for the social and creative aspects.
To find out more,interviewed David* fromWaltonto gain an insight into the furry fandom, the costumes, and the most common misconceptions that people have.
David first stumbled across the furry fandom by looking at some of the artwork online. Although only 16-years-old at the time, he said his interest for the hobby grew when he met another furry while studying at college.
The now 18-year-old said: "I got into it properly about two years ago, but I am still relatively new to it compared to a lot of people.
"I was looking on the internet and came across some of the artwork. I did not do much until I met someone at college who was properly into it."
He added: "Most of my friends are furries. The best thing about it is just chatting to people who have a similar interest."
David explained that most people commission artists to create their furry character - also known as a 'fursona'. His furry persona is a red panda because of his love for the animal, but he does not own a costume.
He said: "Most people create their own character -- that can be anything from a made-up character, to your average house cat.
"Some people are into making their own costumes; there are a few that are well known in the community and some will make it into a career.
"My character is a red panda. I do not have a costume at the moment because they are very pricey. The starting price is [pounds sterling]1,200 and they go up from there. If you want a really fancy costume, that will be about [pounds sterling]3,000 or [pounds sterling]4,000.
"People save up a lot of money to become their character and it allows them to transform in a way that they want to be. A lot of people develop the character from a personality trait that they want to aspire to.
"If they don't have a costume, some people wear makeup or some people attach a tail to their belt. I just wear a lanyard with an image of my character."
David explained that the most popular way to indulge in the hobby is through social gatherings or conventions.
He took part in a five-day convention in Birmingham at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole in May, and said more than 2,000 people from across the world attended.
They raised more than [pounds sterling]30,000 for the charity, Gentleshaw Wildlife Centre, and he described it as one of the best experiences of his life.
"It was probably one of the best experiences in my life," he said. "I was with people I got on well with all the time."
"It is quite hard coming away from it and you have to leave your friends, but I do keep in contact with them regularly."
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David said the most common misconception about being a furry is that many believe it is a purely sexual fetish.
"Most people think it is solely a sexual fetish and that is negligible," he said. "There was an episode on CSI that featured furries in that particular way, but that does not represent it as a whole.
"The main misconception is that we are sexual deviants, that we do not want to integrate in to the community, but that's not the case.
"We all go about doing normal things. We have normal jobs and go to the shops just like everyone else does. Most of my friends are furries. We just have a common interest and we just meet up as friends.
"We are just normal people with an interesting hobby, we are not sexual deviants -- that does not represent the community as a whole. There are obviously people who do do it for sexual purposes, but I personally don't."
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*The interviewee's name has been changed to protect his identity.
An example of what a 'furry' might look like
One of LondonFurs' gatherings in London on Saturday (July 20)