COVID-19 Prompts Call to Close Alligator Farms

Experts' Warning of the Public Health Risk of Killing Animals for 'Luxury' Fashion Prompts PETA to Release Investigative Footage

For Immediate Release:
April 16, 2020

Contact:
Nicole Meyer 202-483-7382

Baton Rouge, La. – Because raising and killing animals for “luxury” fashion can increase the risk of dangerous illnesses like COVID-19—which originated in a Chinese live-animal market—spreading to humans, PETA sent Gov. John Bel Edwards a letter today calling on him to close Louisiana’s alligator farms without delay. PETA has also offered to help fund the cost of retraining alligator farm employees in producing or working with sustainable vegan leathers made from materials such as mushrooms and soy.

“Pens of fetid water packed with stressed alligators are breeding grounds for pathogens like West Nile virus, salmonella, E. coli, and others that can jump to humans,” says PETA President Ingrid Newkirk. “PETA is calling on Gov. Edwards to recognize that while alligator farms have no place in a modern society, vegan fabrics are becoming more and more popular with consumers and would be a boon to the state’s economy.”

PETA’s letter includes footage from its undercover investigation of a Texas alligator farm, where alligators were kept in fetid water and dank, dark sheds, without sunshine, fresh air, clean water, or even basic medical care. Workers—who had to feel around in the water with their feet and hands to try to catch the struggling alligators—shot the animals in the head or crudely cut into their necks while they were still conscious and sensitive to pain.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to wear”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, visit PETA.org.

PETA’s letter to Gov. Edwards follows.

April 16, 2020

The Honorable John Bel Edwards

Governor of Louisiana

Dear Gov. Edwards,

While the world is battling COVID-19—which scientists believe originated in a live-animal market—it’s crucial that we protect public health and help prevent future pandemics. That’s why I’m writing with a lifesaving suggestion: Please get ahead of the curve by shutting down Louisiana’s alligator farms and helping workers there make the transition to producing sustainable vegan materials that won’t cause the next pandemic. PETA would be willing to chip in to defray the cost of retraining.

The coronavirus crisis has put the spotlight on filthy live-animal markets, where sick and stressed animals are crowded together, creating a perfect breeding ground for dangerous zoonotic diseases, which can jump from other species to humans. This is not only happening in China, and now, a warning has been issued that the global trade in the skins of exotic animals killed to make bags, belts, and boots can contribute to the spread of diseases to humans, risking another pandemic.

Many alligators raised for their skin and meat are being crowded together in highly unhygienic conditions, one on top of the other in pens of fetid water. This creates a potentially serious major breeding ground for many zoonotic pathogens, including salmonella, vibrio, Aeromonas spp., Pseudomonas spp., E. coli, trichinella, West Nile virus, and others. When farmed alligators reach the end of their typically miserable lives, it’s standard practice to club them repeatedly on the head or stab them in the back of the neck and skin them (often while they’re still alive) for the production of purses and shoes. Their flesh is often eaten. These grossly unsanitary practices can pose a serious threat to public health.

Even before the current crisis, exotic skins were falling out of favor. Many major designers and retailers—including Chanel, Nine West, Victoria Beckham, Nike, and others—have banned exotic skins from their designs, and California banned them from being sold altogether. Alligators, like all sentient animals, are unique individuals who value their lives. In addition, to protect humans from further disease outbreaks, we must stop raising and slaughtering animals for trivial reasons, such as to create handbags that could easily be made out of cruelty-free materials.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours truly,

Ingrid E. Newkirk

President
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

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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