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April 21, 2003 lauren Ornelas 530/759-8482

Video footage of kangaroo slaughter available

Earth Day marks hearing for the fate of Kangaroo protection in California

Davis, CA.Senate Bill 233 (SB233), introduced by Senator Dennis Hollingsworth, would amend a penal code in California that currently prohibits the selling of kangaroo, crocodile, and alligator skins. The bill is to be heard on April 22 before the Senate Natural Resources and Wildlife Committee at 9:30am in Room 112.

Last summer, Viva! launched an international campaign against the use of kangaroo skins by giant sports company, Adidas. On August 31, 2002, Viva!USA hand-delivered a letter to Adidas' USA corporate headquarters in Portland, OR, notifying them that they were violating California law by selling soccer cleats made from kangaroo skins.

California, often a leader in progressive legislation, has had a law on the books protecting kangaroos since the 1970's. "California should be proud to have such a proactive law to protect wildlife," said Ornelas, "it would be a shame to only be concerned about these animals when it is already too late to save them. Earth Day is a perfect day to show that Californians chose to care about the planet."

"The Australian government allows the bludgeoning of baby kangaroos after they have been torn from their mother's pouches -- just to make shoes," said Ornelas. "Californians I have spoken with believe this is cruel and that we should not cater to one interest group that wants to kill animals that have been protected for 30 years."

Wildlife Endangerment Concerns: Larger skins are preferred by the kangaroo skin industry. Thus, the process of natural selection is seriously disturbed as the largest and fittest animals are targeted. These are animals who would normally survive a drought. Leaving the smaller and younger animals to breed causes the gene pool to weaken. According to Dr. Ian Gunn of the Animal Gene Storage Resource Centre of Australia, "[T]he continued slaughter of kangaroos has the potential to cause the extinction of a number of remaining species." Six species of kangaroos are already extinct on the Australian mainland and 17 species are listed as endangered or vulnerable. The Red Kangaroo is being killed 3 times faster than they can reproduce. In 1960, their average age was 12, now it is two.

Animal Cruelty: Each year, hunters are licensed to shoot millions of adult kangaroos for their meat and skins. Baby 'joeys' - worthless to the industry - are ripped from their dead mothers' pouches and bludgeoned, decapitated, or simply abandoned to die of starvation. Australia is currently in the midst of one of the worst droughts on record and bush fires are raging across the country decimating kangaroo numbers; yet the kangaroo industry continues to shoot millions more.

"This law provides Californians with a way to speak out against the kangaroo massacre. Kangaroos are wildlife, not shoes, said Ornelas. Adidas needs to get in step with the times and use synthetic materials for all their shoes."

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