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

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

For Immediate Release:
June 24, 2015

Contact:
Shakira Croce 202-483-7382

Winnie, Texas and Kariba, Zimbabwe – As reported on CBSNews.com today, PETA’s exposé of two factory farms in Zimbabwe and one in Texas that supply crocodile and alligator skins to Hermès-owned tanneries to create $40,000-plus Birkin bags or $2,000 watchbands reveals terrible conditions and alleged violations of state and federal laws at a Texas alligator farm. Reptiles are trapped in barren and severely crowded pits and, on the Texas farm, had their necks sawed 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 to call on Hermès to stop manufacturing and selling exotic-skin products, which come at a huge cost to wildlife.

PETA has also filed complaints with Texas authorities over the apparently illegal acts of cruelty to animals that were caught on video by a PETA investigator at Lone Star Alligator Farms in Winnie, Texas, who 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 afterward. 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, 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.

Video footage, captured by PETA investigators at Padenga Holdings’ crocodile farms in Kariba, Zimbabwe—which supply skins for Birkin bags—shows concrete pits each 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. Padenga’s director of operations describes the “luxury” bags market as “bulletproof.” Padenga also owns 50 percent of the Texas business.

“PETA’s exposé of Hermes suppliers in the U.S. 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 President 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.”

Broadcast-quality footage is available for download here, photographs are available here, and PETA’s complaint to Texas law-enforcement authorities is available upon request. For more information, please visit PETA.org.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind