Shocking New Investigation Reveals the Horror Behind Hermès-Owned Crocodile Farms
Shocking new footage given to Kindness Project by the Farm Transparency Project reveals the appalling conditions endured by Australian saltwater crocodiles held captive on farms owned by French fashion house Hermès and its suppliers.
The eyewitness footage, narrated by actor Evanna Lynch, captures the moment that crocodiles are mutilated and stabbed with a screwdriver.
The investigation documented how crocodiles on these farms are confined to cramped cages or small concrete pits filled with filthy water, before they are electrocuted, dragged, and mutilated – some while still conscious. The footage shows one animal trying to get up after a worker has cut the back of his neck open with a blade and inserted a screwdriver into his skull in an attempt to scramble his brain.
At least three crocodiles must endure this suffering to make just one Hermès bag.
Crocodiles Are Sentient Beings
Crocodiles can be dangerous to those who enter their territory, but they’re also sentient beings who feel pain and fear. They’re protective, attentive parents and often amuse themselves by blowing bubbles. If left to their own devices, they can outlive humans.
Animal Cruelty for the Sake of a Birkin Bag
“Recent footage has proven that even the supposed highest standards in welfare cannot protect crocodiles from abhorrent living conditions and slaughter,” says Alix Livingstone, campaign director for Kindness Project. “It is imperative that we send a strong message that our precious wildlife are not objects to be commodified for the sake of luxury fashion demands.”
As Kindness Project notes, “Australia accounts for 60% of the global trade of crocodile skins, two thirds of which comes from the Northern Territory, where this footage was captured.” It adds that despite having a natural life expectancy of 70 years, crocodiles used for fashion are violently slaughtered when they’re only 2 or 3 years old and up to four crocodiles are required to make just one Hermès Birkin bag.
PETA and our international affiliates have exposed cruelty at reptile farms before, and the story is always the same: grim, close confinement and a violent death.
PETA US became a Hermès shareholder in 2015 after exposing cruelty at reptile farms in Texas and Zimbabwe that supplied a Hermès-owned tannery. In 2016, a PETA US exposé revealed the suffering of young ostriches at a Hermès supplier, and in 2017, a PETA Asia exposé in Vietnam showed crocodiles locked in grim concrete stalls with unsanitary pools and subjected to violent deaths.
The world’s main producer of saltwater crocodile skin, Australia, exports 90% of it internationally. Hermès is planning to expand its operations there by building Australia’s biggest farm and imprisoning up to 50,000 animals at a time there.
Exotic Skins and the Link to Zoonotic Diseases
Keeping wild animals captive in unsanitary conditions gave rise to COVID-19 and poses a significant risk of future pandemics.
Many alligators and crocodiles who are raised on farms for their skin are kept crowded together in highly unhygienic conditions, one on top of the other in pits of putrid water. This creates a major breeding ground for many zoonotic pathogens – agents of disease that can spread from other animals to humans – including salmonella, vibrio, Aeromonas spp, Pseudomonas spp, E coli, trichinella, and West Nile virus – all of which crocodilians have been found to carry and can pass on to humans.
What You Can Do
These images, which look like they’re straight out of a horror film, remind us of what we already know: the exotic-skins industry is a bloody and cruel business. It’s time for Hermès to stop factory farming wild animals and join Chanel, Jil Sander, and the many other designers who are turning away from animal skins in favour of innovative, ethical, and sustainable materials for which no one has endured horrible living conditions and a violent death.
Never wear someone else’s skin, and urge Hermès to stop selling items made from crocodile and alligator skin: