If you were the governor of a state struggling in the economic downturn and you had $100,000 to spend, what would you do with it? Restore programs cut from schools? Aid homeless shelters? Or promote alligator-skin golf shoes? Florida's budget currently includes about $100,000 a year to market alligator skin, but Gov. Rick Scott wants to put the money to better use. "The state shouldn't be in that business," he said.
Agreed. Really, no one should be in that business. Alligator farmers raid marshes and steal the eggs. Trying to save their children, mother alligators risk their lives jumping into the farmers' boats. On farms, alligators are piled on concrete slabs in tiny stagnant pools and are often used in "petting zoos" and shows until they are large enough to kill for their skin.
A PETA undercover investigation of a Florida alligator farm documented gruesome slaughter methods. One person stood on the animal's mouth, and one stood on the tail, while a third attempted to chisel through the spinal column with a pointed instrument and hammer. It took many blows for the chisel to break through the vertebrae, and even then, the spinal cord wasn't completely severed. It can take around two hours for an animal slaughtered this way to die. Another common slaughter method is beating alligators to death with baseball bats.
Even if Florida fails to cut the industry's funding, you can cut its funding by refusing to buy exotic skins and complaining to the manager if you see exotic skins on store shelves.
Written by Michelle Sherrow