Animal Welfare Groups Kill Bill That Would Allow Alligator & Crocodile Skins To Be Sold In California

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The legislative year ended with a knockdown, drag-out battle between animal rights and conservation groups against a coalition that included Louisiana crocodile breeders, hunters, and the high fashion industry, including Louis Vuitton.

Three versions of the same bill, which would have allowed the continued sale of alligator and crocodile products, were killed by legislators in both houses, despite procedural gamesmanship by monied interest largely from outside of California.

However, the legislature and its leadership held firm as the team of animal rights advocates, guided by Social Compassion in Legislation (SCIL) and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), appealed to re-instate the ban that has, in the past, protected and regenerated alligator and crocodile species.

“Seventy-five percent of Californians support a ban on the sale of exotic skins,” Judie Mancuso, Founder and President of Social Compassion in Legislation, said in a statement emailed to WAN. “The animal rights and environmental communities thank the legislative leadership for listening to Californians, re-instituting the state’s historic protections of alligators and crocodiles, and rejecting the out-of-state special interests that spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on an army of lobbyists.”

A number of celebrity animal activists have also weighed in on the topic, including actor and longtime animal advocate Joaquin Phoenix.

“The majority of alligator skins used to make purses and shoes come from animals raised in crowded, stinking tanks filled with feces and urine. These animals are either stabbed in the head with a chisel or bludgeoned with a metal bat,” Phoenix states in a PETA video condemning the killing of animals for their skins. “Anything you have that is made from animal skins can be made without them. With so many stylish and cruelty-free alternatives, there is no excuse for wearing animal skins.”

“I’ve watched during PETA’s 40 years and my own 70 the evolution away from “survivalist” clothing and accessories that originated in a time when people knew nothing of animal sentience, emotions, behaviors, needs and interests,” said Ingrid Newkirk, Founder and President of PETA. “Later generations and today’s youth recoil from such ignorance, and do not view torturing and killing animals as responsible or desirable, especially for luxury goods like exotic skin products.”

Despite this historical win, SCIL and PETA representatives understand that the fight will continue.

“This is not the last we have heard from the alligator and high fashion industries,” said Nickolaus Sackett, Director of Legislative Affairs for SCIL. “We expect they will be back in January and we will be here waiting for them.”

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