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Exotic Leather

Leather is ubiquitous in fashion and retail, a material of choice from major chain stores through to high end fashion, with many consumers barely raising a question to where all this leather may be coming from.  

In fact, leather is often perceived as a so-called 'by-product' by many consumers, an afterthought to the meat industry, so why not put it to use?  

Well just as modern food practices and consumption are coming under the spotlight for many Australians, so too should be the other industries attached to it.  

Modern farming practices involve serious animal welfare issues throughout an animal’s lifecycle from birth to slaughter, and these issues also extend to the production of leather as well as other primary products, such as meat.  

Put simply, the potential for animal suffering remains the same whether the consumer is purchasing meat, leather or other animal-product. 

Furthermore, the leather supply chain is hidden from consumers with little information available about where brands have imported their leather from, what the welfare conditions were in the supply country and how animals were treated.  

FOUR PAWS is also against leather from endangered and wild species, such as crocodiles and kangaroos, two species who are slaughtered for their skins here in Australia.  

In Australia, crocodile farming is legal and permits wild crocodile eggs to be taken from nests to commercial facilities. Farmed crocodiles are usually slaughtered between two and three years of age, when their belly skin measures at least 35 centimetres, shockingly less than their natural life span of 70 years.  

In recent years, undercover footage of crocodile farming and slaughter from US, African and Vietnamese farms showed highly disturbing cruelty, including evidence of animals remaining conscious after the skinning process began.[1]

 Like similar ‘exotic’ leather products, crocodile skins attract high-end design brands such as Louis Vuitton and Hermès, with crocodile skin products selling for tens of thousands of dollars. 

What can an ethical consumer do? 

As the welfare of animals is always at risk in a commercial system, FOUR PAWS encourages people to buy animal-free alternatives. There are plenty of sustainable alternatives of non-animal origin which are fashionable, affordable and most importantly, animal cruelty-free. 

Companies should take responsibility for the leather they are using, and either consider animal-free alternatives or, and at a minimum, ensure animal welfare requirements in husbandry, transport and slaughter.  


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[1] Forbes, Crocodiles In Vietnam Skinned Alive In Service Of Fashion, (December 2016)