Ostriches are very unique and intelligent animals. They may be flightless, but they make up for that with tremendous speed. Their long and powerful legs are capable of running up to 43 miles per hour – the fastest of any bird – in order to outpace Africa’s wild predators. This is crucial because their enormous size as the largest existing bird species makes them fairly easy to spot in the African landscape, despite colorings designed to camouflage their presence. Perhaps it isn’t surprising then that they also lay the biggest eggs of any bird species, and when those eggs hatch, their strong parental nature comes out in force as mom and dad take turns caring for and vigilantly protecting their young.

In the wild, these offspring stay under the watchful protection of their parents for up to three years. Their captive counterparts, on the other hand – farmed ostriches who are raised for their skins, feathers, and meat – never even meet their loving parents. They are taken away as eggs and placed in industrial incubators, then raised on dirt lots with other newly hatched orphans, until just one year in, they are butchered as babies. Had they been lucky enough to be born free, each may have lived to be more than 40 years old.

The suffering of these animals doesn’t stop there. A PETA investigation into the exclusive supplier of ostrich skins for Hermès “Birkin” bags found that “workers force terrified ostriches into stun boxes — causing many to slip and fall — and then slit their throats. The ostriches next in line watched helplessly as their flockmates were killed right in front of them. Workers were caught on camera striking ostriches in the face during transport, and…[feathers] are ripped out of the ostriches’ skin while they are fully conscious.”

Many more species prized by the fashion industry for their beautiful skins sustain inhumane and barbarous treatment, as well. As PETA explains, “[S]nakes , alligators, crocodiles, and other reptiles who are killed for their skins suffer immensely. Snakes are commonly nailed to trees and their bodies are cut open from one end to the other as they are skinned alive, in the belief that live flaying keeps the skins supple… Lizards are often decapitated, and some writhe in agony as the skin is ripped from their bodies. Most alligator skins come from farmed animals who are raised in crowded tanks or pools of fetid, stinking water. The animals are shot or crudely bludgeoned with hammers. Workers sometimes use a mallet and chisel to sever crocodiles’ spinal cords—which paralyzes, but does not kill, the animals.”

Animals like these do not deserve to endure such torturous lives, and for mere possessions, no less. Several companies like New Look, Topshop, Ann Taylor, Adidas, H&M, and Victoria’s Secret have recognized this truth and have nobly eliminated exotic skins from their lines. It’s time for brands like Hermès and Prada to do the same, and we can make it happen by using our voices to generate awareness and urge change.

Sign this petition and tell Hermès and Prada to ditch exotic skins now, then share this information and urge others to do the same.

In addition, choose compassionate and cruelty-free fashion and avoid purchasing any products made with animal skin or fur.


Image source: Stratos Giannikos/Shutterstock