A "furry" is someone who enjoys dressing up in anthropomorphic animal costumes. While the subculture is much larger in the US, there is a sizeable community here in Australia with at least two annual furry conventions - Confurgence in Melbourne and Furdu in Surfer's Paradise.
If you happen to cross paths with a troupe of furries, there's no reason to be alarmed. However, you need to behave the right way so that everyone remains comfortable.
Photo by AoLun
Over 7000 furries are expected to attend Anthrocon in the US this weekend. The convention includes a public parade, which last year featured 2100 participants. Anthrocon rep John Cole gave the Incline some etiquette tips for interacting with furries. The advice boils down to two rules of thumb: Don't be invasive, and remember that fursuits are hot as hell.
It's OK to ask furries questions, says Cole, but remember that they're people with feelings. Plus, some prefer not to talk. Ask to take pictures, and ask if you can ask further questions. If you have kids, teach them not to crowd anyone or touch them without their permission.
Walking in a parade is gruelling even in breathable clothes, and fursuits are not ideally suited to hot weather (it is currently summer in the US). People in full costume are often hot and dehydrated, inside a costume that limits vision and coordination. So while they might look indestructible, the people inside those suits are pretty vulnerable. Be considerate. Open doors for them and warn them about hazards.
Furries are not, let's say, widely trusted by the public, so they're very careful about interacting with children and even adjusting their body language to look friendly. Anthrocon has a thorough attendee code of conduct. Like most adults, many furries like to have sex, but they aren't any more obsessed with it than the rest of us. So if you grill them about their sexual perversions, they're not the ones who will come off bad. Just respect them like you'd respect any person, even a person who's pretending to be an animal.