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Furries are a subculture of individuals that demonstrate a general interest in anthropomorphic animals, i.e. characters that demonstrate a fusion of animal and human characteristics or behaviors. The collective group of people involved in its continued interest and practice today is referred to as the furry fandom.

Interest in furry media traces its roots back to the 1970's underground comix movement, a genre of comic prints that depicted explicit content, and its genesis as a concept supposedly originated in 1980 when character drawings from Steve Gallacci's Albedo Anthropomorphics resulted in a discussion about such characters in science fiction settings; the conversation eventually led to the appearance of groups at conventions and similar gathering points thereafter. The term "furry" came about in fanzines as early as the year 1983 and had become the standard label for the community by the mid-1990s. Fandom historians often cite works of furry media as inspiration for the culture, such as Osamu Tezuka's Kimba, The White Lion (1950-54; televised adaptation released 1965), Richard Adams' Watership Down (1972; film adaptation released 1978), and Walt Disney's Robin Hood (1973). By the year 1989 the first formal furry convention, known as "ConFurence 0", took place at Holiday Inn Bristol Plaza in Costa Mesa, California; it is no longer held, and has since been replaced by Califur. Over the next decade, the Internet had made the fandom accessible to people around the world, and by November 1990 the newsgroup and similar online forums began cropping up across the network.

It is common for furries to roleplay an animal character called a "fursona", which acts as a proxy for interactions with others in the community. A majority of these characters trend towards mammalians or carnivorous creatures, although interest in a variety of other species can be found throughout the fandom, as well. A wide range of these characters assume colorful and vibrant palette schemes as a matter of distinction and promoting individualism among other furries, though it is equally just as accepted to portray one's fursona with features conventional to their designated species, also.

Furries as individuals aren't always interested in the fandom or its elements for sexual reasons, although a very small minority within the community expresses a vocal interest in pornographic furry content. Another uncommon element seen within the community can be found in the form of "murrsuits", a derivative of the typical fursuit that has been modified for sexual play, and there is also the occasional overlap with pup play culture in addition to other kink and fetish lifestyles. Another small percentage of furries engage in the fandom as a lifestyle choice, and thus form a distinction between the two terminologies.

The fandom and its participants have long been deeply misunderstood and stereotyped by popular media as purveyors of deviancy in all colors, and negative examples throughout culture have reinforced these preconceptions among the uninformed and ignorant. In reality, the fandom is composed of a variety of people all over the spectrum of life, from artists and gamers to writers and scientists, and furry media is the canvas they use to express their truest selves, ergo it can be said to qualify as a specific category of roleplay.

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