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The top fashion luxury brand Altuzarra, launched in New York in 2008 by the French-American luxury women’s clothing designer Joseph Altuzarra, has banned the use of skins from exotic animals — such as crocodiles, snakes or ostriches — in their future collections.  

As part of their campaign against the use of animal products in fashion, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) had sent Altuzarra exposés on animal cruelty within the exotic skins trade. PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman said: “By ditching ostrich leather and python purses, Altuzarra is saving animals’ lives and protecting public health.” 

Altuzarra is just the latest of a series of top designers and retailers that have ditched exotic skins, including Calvin Klein, Chanel, Diane von Furstenberg, HUGO BOSS, Karl Lagerfeld, Victoria Beckham, and Vivienne Westwood. This is great news for animal rights campaigners who were still rejoicing from the recent news about Kering, the parent company of Brioni and the luxury French fashion brand Saint Lauren, announcing that these two companies will stop designing clothes with fur from 2022. PETA is now targeting Louis Vuitton, Hermès, Prada, and other brands asking them to follow suit.

Although the traditional animal rights campaigning on the use of animals in fashion have focused on fur mainly, it is good that the welfare of reptiles has now taken centre stage and campaigns against the use of snake or crocodile skins are now happening. There is plenty of evidence to show the horrible life and death these animals have to endure at the hunts of the animal skin industry. Recently, PETA Asia launched an exposé showing industry workers inflating snakes with compressed air, as well as skinning crocodiles alive. Those recorded alleged the snakes were stunned with a car battery before being slaughtered, but electrocution is not a humane or an acceptable method for either stunning or killing reptiles.

In a world where the risk of serious pandemics is no longer theoretical, it begs belief that the business of obtaining skins from the captive breeding of exotic animals, one of the major potential sources of zoonotic diseases that develop into pandemics, has not been banned everywhere yet. That should be the next achievement.