Thousands of people have banded together to urge Hermès to stop using exotic animal skins. The campaign comes as the luxury fashion house plans to open a new crocodile farm in Australia.
Hermès already owns at least five crocodile farms, according to the animal rights organization Kindness Project.
A press release from the Animal Justice Project says the new farm could hold up to 50,000 saltwater crocodiles captive.
Animals on these farms live ‘short and barren lives’, the press release notes, adding that it takes three to four crocodiles to produce one handbag.
Footage captured by Farm Transparency Project shows farmed crocodiles living in ‘tiny, filthy concrete pits’. The pens are only slightly longer than their bodies, and provide little room to move around. In the video, some of the animals’ food is riddled with maggots.
Harry Potter actor Evanna Lynch, who narrated the footage, describes the environment as a ‘hellhole’.
Saltwater crocodiles can live for more than 70 years in the wild, but on farms like these, they are killed at two to three years old.
The crocodiles are electrocuted to be taken away for slaughter, an abattoir worker explains in the video. Then, the animals’ necks are cut to sever the spinal cord, and a rod is inserted into their brains, Animal Justice Project says.
The organization adds that some crocodiles move around for more than a minute after the slaughter process has begun.
A literature review published in 2019 looked at 37 studies to learn more about reptile cognition. They found that reptiles are assumed to be capable of experiencing distress, anxiety, frustration, pain, suffering, excitement, and fear.
The Drop Croc NGO coalition campaign was established in an effort to protect the animals.
As part of the initiative, Kindness Project has helped nearly 35,000 people send emails to Hermès urging the company to ditch croc skins in favor of animal-free alternatives.
The coalition campaign is also calling on the Australian government to deny Hermès’ request for a crocodile skin export permit. Activists are also urging the government to stop the development of the new farm and create a plan to phase out crocodile farming for good.
Ayrton Cooper, Campaigns Manager at Animal Justice Project states: “Following this horrendous footage coming out from inside their crocodile farms, we are speaking on behalf of thousands of people around the world when we say Hermès must do the right thing by immediately halting their expansion in Australia’s Northern Territory; and ending their use of exotic animal skins.
“The cruel housing of crocodiles in concrete isolation pits so Hermès can protect the valuable skins before brutally killing the animals by forcing rods into their brains for so-called luxury goods is not a good look.”
Cooper adds that the footage brings to light just ‘how much suffering’ is required to produce a Hermès bag. It also dispels Hermès’ claims that it adheres to a ‘very strict’ animal welfare policy.
“The reality is anything but ‘humane’,” Cooper continued. “Hermès must move with more compassionate times, not continue expanding the animal cruelty part of its business.”
This Saturday, activists in nine countries are protesting outside Hermès stores around the world. Animal Justice Project is hosting a protest outside Hermès flagship store on Bond Street, London. Protests are also planned for Australia, Austria, Canada, Germany, Indonesia, Mexico, Norway, the UK, and the United States.