Schwarzenegger lifts kangaroo-skin ban

Californian soccer players can put Roo back on their shoe thanks to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signing a bill overturning the state's ban on the import and sale soccer shoes made from kangaroo leather. California was the only state to ban kangaroo leather, which, because it's lighter than other leathers, is a popular material for high-performance soccer cleats.

The Australian government permits exportation of kangaroo leather and meat.

"Australia's wildlife management policies should be respected," Andrea Corso, spokeswoman for Adidas America, said in an e-mail statement to the Chicago Tribune, which reported that adidas said less than 1 percent of its U.S. footwear sales involve kangaroo leather.

Adidas had lobbied the state Assembly for passage of SB 880, which passed and was signed by the governor.

David Beckham reportedly stopped wearing kangaroo leather Adidas Predators, opting for a synthetic version of the shoe.

Despite the 37-year-old ban, the sale of kangaroo-skin cleats had been poorly enforced. But last year, animal rights group Viva! Vegetarian International Voice for Animals won a lawsuit against Adidas for selling them in California. The state Supreme Court stated that the federal law allowing the sale of kangaroo products did not override the California ban.

"The ruling stated the constitutionality of the law," Lauren Ornelas, a spokeswoman for Viva! , told the Tribune before the ban was lifted. "The state Legislature passed this law [banning kangaroo skin] because of the way baby kangaroos are ripped from their mother's pouches and, according to the code of practice in Australia, decapitated or bludgeoned."

Australia is home to more than 25 million kangaroos, according to the Kangaroo Industry Association of Australia, Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Their leather is used in shoes, boots, belts and gloves as well as items such as purses and backpacks. The meat can be processed into different cuts for people and is also used as pet food.

 

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