Nike's kangaroo leather controversy ends with 'seismic' announcement

The decision to stop making any footwear with kangaroo leather follows the recent decision of Puma as both companies move to a synthetic alternative.

Nike has announced an end to its highly controversial practice of using kangaroo leather to create some lines of football boots.

The decision, confirmed in an email by the sporting goods manufacturer to Yahoo News Australia, comes less than two weeks after a similar move by Puma, with both companies opting to replace the product with a synthetic alternative.

In a statement, Nike said its new proprietary synthetic upper offers a better performance solution for its Tiempo shoe franchise. “Nike divested of its only kangaroo leather supplier in 2021 and will stop making any product with kangaroo leather in 2023,” it added.

Nike has announced it will stop using kangaroo leather in its shoes. Source: Getty (File)
Nike has announced it will stop using kangaroo leather in its shoes. Source: Getty (File)

Animal activists celebrate Nike kangaroo decision

After years of campaigning, animal welfare advocates in the US and Australia have welcomed the change. They have argued kangaroo industry practices are both unsustainable and inhumane, with around two million animals killed across the country each year.

“Nike’s announcement that it will end use of kangaroo skins for its athletic shoes is a seismic event in wildlife protection, and tremors will be felt all over the world, especially in Australia where the mass commercial slaughter of kangaroos occurs,” Center for a Humane Economy’s Wayne Pacelle said in the US.

A stock image of a Nike Tiempo running shoe.
The decision will affect Nike's Tiempo's running shoes. Source: Nike

In Australia, Mick McIntyre, the founder of animal advocacy group Kangaroos Alive, said the decision effectively means the "era of killing kangaroos for shoes, pet food and handbags is over". "Nike and Puma have recognised this and we congratulate them on their decision," he added.

The Kangaroo Industry Association of Australia (KIAA) has long maintained animal welfare concerns raised by activists are "false narratives". "There's a lot of misinformation being put out … about the way we treat the animals," its executive officer Dennis King told ABC in February.

Pressure mounts on Adidas to ditch kangaroo leather

Nike’s decision follows the introduction of a bill in January in Oregon, US, where the company’s headquarters are situated, which would ban products containing dead kangaroos. There is a separate bill before the House of Representatives that would criminalise the import, transport, and sale of kangaroo products. Their sale is already prohibited in California.

Pressure is now mounting on competitor Adidas to discontinue use of the wild animal pelts. Yahoo News Australia has contacted the company for comment.

In Australia, kangaroo skins and even scrotums are sold at tourist shops around the country, while major supermarkets like Coles and Woolworths continue to retail its meat for both humans and pets.

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