Caught On Video: The Horrors Behind Hermes – Live Reptiles Sawed Open

PETA U.S. International Exposé Shows Miserable Lives and Deaths of Crocodiles and Alligators Before Becoming ‘Luxury’ Birkin Bags, Watchbands, or Belts

For Immediate Release:

June 25, 2015

Tokyo — A PETA U.S. exposé of a crocodile factory farm in Zimbabwe and an alligator facility in Texas that supply skins to Hermès-owned tanneries reveals that reptiles are trapped in barren, crowded pens and alligators were sometimes sawed open while conscious—all for ¥5 million Birkin bags or ¥200,000 watchbands. The investigation revealed a direct connection to Japanese markets. PETA has previously called on Hermès to stop manufacturing and selling exotic-skin products, which come at a huge cost to wildlife. 

Video footage captured by PETA U.S. investigators at a Kariba, Zimbabwe, farm of Padenga Holdings Ltd.—a company based in Harare, Zimbabwe, that supplies skins for “luxury” Hermès products and operates one of the largest Nile crocodile–farming operations in the world, with over 43,000 animals killed there in 2014 alone—shows concrete pits each filled with as many as 220 crocodiles. In the video, Padenga’s director of operations describes the process of slaughter, which involves stunning crocodiles and then sawing into their necks, shoving a metal wire down their spines, and jamming a metal rod up into their skulls in an attempt to scramble the animals’ brains.

The director of operations of Padenga explained that the belly skins are stripped off to make bags, such as the Hermès Birkin or Kelly bags, and that the backstraps are sent to Japan to be sold as luxury belts. The store locator on the Hermès website shows that there are 43 Hermès locations in Japan.

Padenga also owns 50 percent of Lone Star Alligator Farms in Texas, U.S.A., where a PETA U.S. investigator recorded alligators crammed into dark pits of dirty water and filmed workers as they shot alligators in the head, some multiple times, with a captive-bolt gun and sawed into the back of their necks with a box cutter to sever their blood vessels. Some animals survived and were seen moving in ice-water bins minutes afterward. When the gun was believed to have malfunctioned on five different days, the manager instructed a worker to cut into more than 500 conscious alligators. The facility manager referred to the live alligators as “watchbands,” as if they were already inanimate products.

“PETA U.S.’ exposé reveals that every Hermès watchband, Hermès belt, or Birkin bag means a living, feeling being experienced a miserable life and a ghastly death,” says PETA founder Ingrid E. Newkirk. “People pay thousands of dollars for these ‘luxury’ accessories, but the reptiles on these cruel, filthy farms are paying the real price.”

Broadcast-quality footage is available for download here, and photographs are available here.

For more information on the investigation, please visit