The international campaign “Kangaroos Are NOT Shoes” targets ADIDAS for using kangaroo leather and is gaining momentum after a successful global day of action.
Los Angeles, January 8th, 2024 — The year 2024 kicked off with two major athletic footwear companies, Nike and Puma, implementing their pledge to stop using leather from kangaroos in their shoes. Encouraged by these victories, animal rights activists and wildlife protectors around the world have trained their sights on ADIDAS, the other giant athletic shoe company that still uses kangaroo leather, despite repeatedly entreaties that it stop.
A Global Day of Action Against Adidas
On December 2nd and 3rd of 2023, at the height of the holiday shopping season, animal rights activists in 20 cities around the world staged protests at ADIDAS stores as part of a global campaign demanding that the company stop using kangaroo skin in its soccer shoes. Animal rights groups staged protests in Australia, Canada, Italy, Germany, The Netherlands, Spain, Ireland, New Zealand, and the United States. Led by Australia’s Animal Justice Party, which is advocating in the Australian Parliament for a ban on kangaroo slaughter, the global day of action was part of the “Kangaroos are Not Shoes” campaign organized by the Center for a Humane Economy, which was supported by dozens of other organizations, including UnchainedTV.
When the campaign started three years ago, there were 2 million wild kangaroos killed in their native habitats each year, including about 500,000 joeys who were collateral damage from the intentional killing of adults. The joeys die after the shooters orphan them by slaying their mothers in night-time shoots.
Australian Member of Parliament Emma Hurst, Center for Humane Economy’s Jennifer Skiff, Animal Justice Party’s Louise Ward & TheirTurn.Net’s Donny Moss revealed their strategy for ending kangaroo slaughter to UnchainedTV’s Jane Velez-Mitchell. You can watch the entire fascinating conversation here:
It All Started in Australia
Emma Hurst MP is the Animal Justice Party’s first female Member of Parliament in Australia and the third elected MP to represent the Animal Justice Party in an Australian State Parliament. Before working in Parliament, Emma worked as a registered psychologist, having graduated from Monash University with a Master’s Degree in Psychology. Emma later worked as a campaign director at Animal Liberation and a media officer at PETA. Hurst explains their kangaroo campaign’s key issue:
“We have the largest land-based massacre of wildlife in the world here in Australia and we’re talking about a very cruel industry. A lot of people are really aware of what happens to the baby harp seals, but if you’re going to wear soccer shoes made out of kangaroo leather, you may as well wear a baby harp seal jacket to go with it. It is an absolutely horrific industry. The code of practice of this industry actually requires that joeys have their heads bashed.”
Despite the opposition of many Australians, the Australian government, regardless of which party has been leading it, is supporting the kangaroo leather industry claiming that the mass-shooting of wild kangaroos is both humane and sustainable. MP Hurst explains how frustrating this is, and why her party began campaigning overseas about this issue:
“The government’s really in bed with this industry and when myself and our state director Louise Ward actually traveled through the US, we were quite mortified to hear that different representatives, and different people representing Australia and Australian governments, were actually supporting this industry despite the absolute brutality and the risk of losing this species.”
“We could end up seeing kangaroos go extinct in the same way as our koalas are now facing extinction in Australia.” — Emma Hurst, Member of the Australian Parliament
Louise Ward is the state director of Australia’s Animal Justice Party. As a qualified social worker, she has provided support and guidance for women in prisons. She has also advocated for women experiencing domestic violence and has helped Indigenous communities with a focus on environmental justice. She says the “Kangaroos Are Not Shoes” protest campaign came about because repeated, polite efforts to get Adidas to change fell on deaf ears.
“We’ve tried, as has the Center for a Humane Economy, over many years now, to write to ADIDAS, to send them nice messages, to send them encouraging messages, to try and tell them, ‘You know what is happening to kangaroos right now in Australia?’ and they ignored us. What can you do when people ignore you? You have to take that protest to them, so that’s what we decided to do, to take the protest to the front doors of ADIDAS.”
After the success of December’s day of action where hundreds of people joined 30 animal welfare organizations to protest in ADIDAS stores, follow up actions are planned, says Ward:
“We’re planning another global online action, so it’s going to be a three-pronged attack on ADIDAS. We’re looking at creating a comment storm on their Instagram, looking at calling — we want to get people in every country in the world to call ADIDAS’ head office in that country — and then also an email storm to ADIDAS, so every single person in the world can participate in those three actions that are going to be occurring on the January 16th, 2024. And we’re going to do some protests at Adidas headquarters in various countries as well.”
“We’d love to know what’s happening in ADIDAS boardrooms right now because they must be seriously considering the impact of continuing to use kangaroo products in their shoes,” — Louise Ward, Australia’s Animal Justice Party
Jennifer Skiff is a bestselling author, award-winning journalist, and a prominent global advocate for animal protection. She serves as the Director of International Programs for Animal Wellness Action at the Center for a Humane Economy in Washington, focusing on public policy and corporate reform initiatives for the benefit of animals. She is the director of the “Kangaroos Are Not Shoes” campaign for the center. She explains the genesis of this campaign:
“In November, we did have a meeting with Frank Hanke, who is the head of sustainability at ADIDAS, and we talked to him. He was well aware of our campaign and well aware of the fact that Nike, Puma, and New Balance, all – last year – made the decision to no longer use K leather in their products. What he did tell us is that he believed what the Australian government told him.”
The myth that the Australian government propagates is that kangaroos are pests and that they are increasing in numbers. But, research has shown that kangaroos are native animals that have lived in harmony with the Australian environment for millions of years and that kangaroo numbers are in fact dropping. The New South Wales government’s recently released population figures show 500,000 fewer kangaroos in that state than last year.
“We’re calling them out. They’re telling their board members, they’re telling all of their supporters, they are telling everyone who buys an ADIDAS product, that what they do is sustainable and humane, but they are lying.” — Jennifer Skiff, Center for a Humane Economy
Donny Moss is a well-known, NYC-based, animal rights activist who runs local campaigns and produces videos for his media outlet TheirTurn.net. In 2008, Moss made the award-winning film BLINDERS which documents NYC’s controversial horse-drawn carriage trade. In May of 2015, he launched a grassroots campaign to compel the NY Blood Center to pay for the care of 66 chimpanzees whom the organization abandoned with no food or water on islands in Liberia. He’s a big part of the Kangaroos Are Not Shoes campaign, and explains what he thinks may be happening at ADIDAS right now:
“I once worked for a big company at a time when we were subjected to protests. People from marketing, sales, security, legal, and public relations, all got together to talk about how to handle it. It’s very disruptive to have a protest in even one store, but when you have protests inside of or in front of stores all across the world, that really has to be having an impact.”
Annie Abram and Michael Fujimori, who joined in the live UnchainedTV panel discussion, organized the in-store protest at the large ADIDAS store on the famous 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica, California, where UnchainedTV’s Jane Velez-Mitchell also gave a speech. Abram said the thought of joeys being bludgeoned to death while their mothers are shot keeps her up at night.
There are advances at the legislative level. California already has a ban on kangaroo products, and now, U.S. Representatives Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Penn., and Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., have introduced the Kangaroo Protection Act, H.R. 4995, to ban the sale of kangaroo body parts in the United States. A U.S. Senate companion bill will soon be introduced. Those Americans who want to help the campaign can contact their representatives asking them to support this bill, as well as write directly to ADIDAS.