By Nina Jones
with contributions from Joelle Diderich
 on June 24, 2015

LONDON — People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals in the U.S. said last week that it has filed complaints to both the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Chambers County sheriff’s office in Anahuac, TX, over what it alleges are acts of cruelty to animals at an alligator farm in the state which supplies an Hermès-owned tannery.

In the course of an undercover investigation during fall 2014 — a film of which has been posted on PETA’s YouTube channel — PETA states that workers at the facility, Lone Star Alligator Farms in Winnie, Tex., had cut open live alligators and kept the animals in severely crowded pits. PETA also filmed a person it identifies as the manager of the farm referring to the alligators as “watchbands.”

Steve Lightfoot, news manager for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, confirmed Friday that the department had earlier this year received PETA’s complaint about alleged violations at the farm.

Lightfoot said following the department’s subsequent investigation into the farm, the department issued the facility with “code violations.” The violations, for code C misdemeanors as listed in the Texas constitution, meant the farm was obliged to make a number of changes, such as increasing the size of the pens for some of the alligators. Following the farm’s amendments, no further action is to be taken, Lightfoot said.

In addition, PETA said in the complaint that it investigated another farm that it claims is a supplier to Hermès-owned tanneries, Padenga Holdings crocodile farms in Kariba, Zimbabwe, where it says crocodiles are kept in inhumane conditions.

According to Padenga’s Web site, it has held a 50 percent stake in the Lone Star Alligator Farm since 2012.

A spokeswoman for PETA said the organization is calling for consumers to petition Hermès, via a form on its Web site, to ask the luxury goods firm to stop making designs made from crocodile and alligator skins.

She said the organization had focused its investigation on suppliers to Hermès, and doesn’t immediately have plans to investigate other luxury firms that work with exotic skins, though it continually campaigns for designers and retailers to stop selling exotic skins.

Hermès said all its skins were sourced from farms conforming to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. “Hermès is continuously verifying all procedures. Any non-conforming parties will be dealt with accordingly and will be sanctioned,” the house said in a statement.