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THE SKIN I AM IN: London Zoo’s bizarre handbag enclosure highlights ‘unforgivable’ cruelty

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There's a legal trade in saltwater crocodile skins for big fashion houses like Hermes and Louie Vuitton. The trade is associated with enormous cruelty to these animals. They live a short life before suffering a brutal death just for a handbag and that's just unforgivable.

MICHAEL DAHLSTROM: A Tweet showing a London Zoo enclosure filled with a handbag instead of a live crocodile has gone viral… The post attracted almost 400,000 likes and 68,000 retweets in just two days. At first glance, the installation looks to have come out of the mind of an artist like Banksy, who has made animal welfare the focus of many works. In his New York installation, The Village Pet Store and Charcoal Grill, he included fish sticks swimming in a fish bowl, and hotdogs in reptile enclosures.

Another culprit could have been animal rights group PETA, or even World Animal Protection (WAP), both who have run campaigns against luxury brands using crocodile skin to make handbags. Speaking with Yahoo News Australia…, WAP’s Ben Pearson confirmed it wasn’t connected to his charity. “I think this exhibit is great because it draws attention to the problem of using wild animals for fashion products,” he said. One reaction to the tweet said: “This is art. We need more unexpected activism from “normal” places like this”…

Surprisingly, the exhibit was actually installed by London Zoo itself. An accompanying plaque reveals why. “This bag used to be found swimming in slow-moving rivers and streams across Southeast Asia and Indonesia,” it says. “Over the last 75 years more than 80 per cent of Siamese crocodiles have disappeared. Many, like this one, were hunted for their skins as part of the illegal wildlife trade”…

The bag itself was confiscated by UK customs at London Airport in 2018 and was handed to the zoo to highlight the impact of the illegal wildlife trade. Siamese crocodiles are now critically endangered due to hunting and habitat loss, and number between just 500 and 1000 individuals, according to the IUCN Red List…

While the handbag highlights issues with endangered crocodiles, WAP’s Mr Pearson has been campaigning against the use of all wild animals in fashion… “There’s a legal trade in saltwater crocodile skins for big fashion houses like Hermes and Louie Vuitton,” he said. “The trade is associated with enormous cruelty to these animals. They live a short life before suffering a brutal death just for a handbag and that’s just unforgivable”. SOURCE…

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