(HOLLYWOOD) – An innovative and disturbing short film by Hollywood producer Gavin Polone and director Derek Ambrosi, released on 4 February 2020, exposed the hidden truth behind Nike soccer shoes made from kangaroo skins, according to the Center for a Humane Economy.
The 60-second short film lays bare an element of Nike’s supply chain that stretches thousands of miles in length and involves an ongoing slaughter of kangaroos in their native habitats. Using reverse sequencing, the film begins with a soccer player’s shoe kicking a ball into the goal, chronologically looking back through the retail supply chain and manufacturing process, to the Australian outback where wild kangaroos are shot and stripped of their skin – for soccer shoes. The market for kangaroo skin soccer shoes is at the core of the largest terrestrial wildlife slaughter on the planet.
“I wanted to expose the bloody truth that is being hidden from well-intentioned consumers who may have no idea how their ‘K-leather’ shoes are being made,” said Polone. “Nike can no longer hide its responsibility for this atrocity.” The film concludes by noting that “Nike Profits. Kangaroos Die.”
Polone and Ambrosi made the short film with the Center for a Humane Economy and its partners as a creative work in a global campaign to persuade Nike to end its role in the killing of two million wild kangaroos (adults and joeys) every year.
The film was released with partners on three continents. Polone’s other work includes Gilmore Girls, Panic Room, A Dog’s Journey, and Zombieland 2: Double Tap. Ambrosi is known for being the editor of Premium Rush, Mortdecai, You Should Have Left, and director of video collaborations with Jay-Z, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Sean Puffy Combs and John Mellencamp.
The campaign came to life after raging bush fires engulfed parts of Australia and burned or displaced three billion animals, including millions of kangaroos. So many people donated to help the koalas and kangaroos, but most people didn’t realize that there was an ongoing massacre of kangaroos that would only add to the carnage.
“Nike officials are not pulling the trigger, but they might as well be,” noted Wayne Pacelle, President of the Center for a Humane Economy. “Using spotlights and night-vision rifle scopes, hired guns kill entire kangaroo families in the dead of night so they can sell the skins to the world’s best-known athletic shoe company.”
The Center for a Humane Economy and its partners have launched a petition (here) urging viewers of the film to join the growing movement to convince Nike to leave the kangaroos alone. More and more clothing manufacturers including Versace, Prada and Gucci, plus Italian soccer shoe manufacturer Diadora, have stopped using kangaroo skins.
SPCA International is partnering with the Center on the short film and is promoting it to its hundreds of thousands of supporters across the world. “SPCA International worked with so many teams on the ground in Australia in 2020 rescuing and rehabilitating kangaroos injured by the devastating bushfires,” said Executive Director Meredith Ayan. “Kangaroos do not deserve to go through that trauma, be nursed back to health and released to the wild only to be killed in a brutal commercial hunt.”
Sports stars are also speaking out about Nike’s dirty little secret. “We don’t treat sports as a cordoned-off enterprise set apart from the rest of world and its swirl of social concerns,” said Dotsie Bausch, Olympic cycling silver medalist (2012) speaking for herself as well as for soccer gold medalist Heather Mitts Feeley (2004, 2008, 2012), track-and-field gold medalist David Verburg (2016), and other elite athletes. “That means we care about the things we wear, the supply chain that allows them to be fabricated, and the precious world that we all inhabit with animals.” Their letter to Nike is available here.
Nike, the world’s largest manufacturer of sportswear, is one of seven major athletic shoe companies making soccer shoes from kangaroos. Other manufacturers include adidas, Puma, New Balance, Mizuno, Pantofola d’Oro, Umbro and Lotto. The Center for a Humane Economy has developed a first-of-its-kind list identifying kangaroo skin soccer shoes, or “cleats,” listing 72 models. The list is here.
Australia’s kangaroo killing guidelines, which are voluntary, instruct shooters of female kangaroos to check the pouch for joeys – then to bludgeon them to death. This is the fate of hundreds of thousands of dependent young each year.
“We’re no longer making hats from herons and egrets, we no longer decorate our living rooms with ivory trinkets, and we shouldn’t wear athletic shoes made from the skins of kangaroos,” said Pacelle. “There’s just no need for it. Every one of these companies already sells soccer cleats made from fabrics not stripped from the backs and bodies of wildlife.”
This article was kindly provided for publication on 5 February 2021 by The Center for a Humane Economy, a nonprofit organization that urges corporations to embrace animal welfare principles in their operations, supply chains, and R&D practices.
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