Recently, tourists were out shopping in Bangkok, stopping at an exclusive leather shop. But when they examined the bags and jackets closely – they were exposed to a rather unpleasant surprise. We all know what leather is – and for most of us, we still choose to ignore it when we are out shopping. But recently, PETA decided to launch a very unique kind of social experiment, and show people what leather bags are really – quite literally – made of.
Shoes, bags, belts, wallets, leather sofas, leather jackets and leather pants. Most of us have probably already own something made of animal skin. I admit for one that I have many leather shoes at home.
But I rarely think about how these shoes have been manufactured – until I watched the movie below.
Millions of cows, pigs, goats, sheep and horses are killed for the leather industry that produces almost two billion cubic meters of leather each year. The largest producers are China, Italy, India, Brazil and Korea.
Although there is legislation on animal welfare in most of these countries, they’re having difficulties implementing these rules, and there are many challenges when attempting to make the leather industry abide by the rules.
A large portion of animals are reared up in animal factories in extreme conditions: first tightly packed in small and narrow spaces, to eventually be transported to the slaughterhouse. Despite that it is illegal to overload trucks with animals, many in the industry continue to do so, for economic reasons. It therefore isn’t uncommon for animals to collapse during their journey, and sometimes not get food or water during transport. Some drivers transport the animals at night when no police or animal welfare organizations are on the road.
The world’s largest exporter of leather is China, where there is no official law against animal cruelty. In China about 2 million dogs and cats are killed for their skins every year. The animals spend their entire lives in tiny metal cages and the first time they get to feel solid ground under their feet is the day when they are slaughtered. Dog and cat fur is used for gloves, belts, trinkets – and even cart toys.
This film is a real eye opener, and I admit I will probably think twice the next time I see a nice pair of leather shoes at the store.
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