Nearly 5 years after California outlawed the sale of products made from kangaroo skin, over 100 retailers are still selling these items. In 2016, the California Penal Code § 653o went into effect, banning the sale and import of athletic shoes made from kangaroo leather, or k-leather. However, a recent investigation by the Center for a Humane Economy (CHE) has proven otherwise. In the investigation, which spanned several months, CHE has established that the majority of 117 physical specialty stores and 76 online retailers are selling products made with kangaroo skin. The investigation has found that some leading retailers, such as Dick’s Sporting Goods, Nike and New Balance, are still stocking k-leather products years after the ban.
According to the California Penal Code § 653o, any person found selling or importing k-leather products could face penalties of up to $5,000 and six months in jail. Such penalties have not stopped retailers from selling the products, in part due to a lack of enforcement. Even some of the leading shoe brands are still producing k-leather products years after the legislation was put in place.
In a recent attempt to determine whether Nike still produces k-leather products, Robert Ferber, a former Los Angeles city prosecutor specializing in animal cruelty crimes, ordered a pair of shoes from Nike. He requested that the shoes be made with k-leather.
“I’ve ordered pairs of Tiempo Legend 8 Elite to see if Nike was following the law,” Ferber said. “Except for a brief period this spring, the shoes I ordered through Nike.com appeared promptly and illegally on my doorstep.”
In Australia alone, approximately 2 million kangaroos are killed annually for their skin. Given that their skin is very tough, it is a popular choice for sporting goods manufacturers that want to make durable products.
CHE and other organizations are now collaborating to end the use of kangaroo leather. CHE has created a list of companies that use kangaroo skin and specifically outlined which products include this material in a bid to discourage people from buying these items.
Image via Terri Sharp