Caught on Video: Hermès Horror—Live Reptiles Sawed Open on Supplier’s Farm

Immediate Release:
25 June 2015

Benazir Suraiya; [email protected]
Shambhavi Tiwari; [email protected]

PETA US’ International Exposé Shows Miserable Lives and Deaths of Reptiles Who Become ‘Luxury’ Birkin Bags or Watchbands

Mumbai – PETA US’ exposé of two factory farms in Zimbabwe and one in Texas, USA, that supply crocodile and alligator skins to Hermès-owned tanneries – to create USD $40,000-plus Birkin bags or USD $2,000 watchbands – reveals terrible conditions as well as alleged violations of US state and federal laws at the Texas alligator farm. In India, Hermès has stores in Delhi and Mumbai.

Reptiles are trapped in barren and severely crowded pits and, on the Texas farm, had their necks sawn open – some moving minutes after they were attacked with a knife or box cutter in a crude effort to slaughter them. The documentation has prompted PETA US to call on Hermès to stop manufacturing and selling exotic-skin products, which come at a huge cost to wildlife.

PETA US has also filed complaints with Texas authorities over the apparently illegal acts of cruelty to animals that were caught on video by a PETA US investigator at Lone Star Alligator Farms in Winnie, Texas. The investigator documented that workers shot alligators in the head, some multiple times, with a captive-bolt gun and sawed into the back of their necks with a box cutter to sever their blood vessels. Some animals survived and were seen moving in ice-water bins minutes afterwards. When the captive-bolt gun was believed to be malfunctioning, the facility manager told a worker to cut into hundreds of conscious alligators and try to dislocate their vertebrae and then shove a metal rod up their spinal columns in an attempt to scramble their brains. The manager referred to the live alligators as “watchbands,” as some of their skins are used for the “luxury” bands on Hermès wristwatches.

The video footage captured by PETA US investigators at Padenga Holdings’ crocodile farms in Kariba, Zimbabwe – which supply skins for Birkin bags – shows concrete pits, each of which is filled with as many as 220 crocodiles. Padenga operates one of the largest Nile crocodile–farming operations in the world, with 43,000 animals killed in 2014 alone. The company’s director of operations describes the “luxury” bags market as “bulletproof.” Padenga also owns 50 per cent of the Texas business.

“PETA US exposé of Hermès suppliers in the US and Africa reveals that every Hermès watchband or Birkin bag means a living, feeling being experienced a miserable life and a ghastly death”, says PETA India founder Ingrid E. Newkirk. “People pay thousands of dollars for such accessories, but the reptiles on these cruel and disgusting factory farms are paying the real price.”

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