18 May 2004; immediate use
David Beckham Gets His Kicks Out of Kangaroo Slaughter
In a scathing letter to David Beckham, international campaign group Viva! has strongly criticised the soccer star for encouraging the largest massacre of wildlife on the planet by continuing to promote kangaroo skin football boots. Despite providing detailed information on the barbarity of the massacre, including shocking video footage, Beckham has refused to even acknowledge the international campaign and has continued to add to his personal fortune by signing a new deal with soccer boot manufacturers, Adidas.
This year in Australia, 4.4 million adult kangaroos will be commercially shot for the meat and leather industries. Baby 'joeys' - useless by products of this barbaric industry - are dragged from their dead mothers' pouches and killed by being stamped on, bludgeoned with iron pipes or decapitated.
Beckham - the world's highest earning footballer - has signed a deal with Adidas to extend his contract with them until 2008. He recently unveiled a new personal logo for the firm and has enthusiastically promoted the new Predator Pulse football boot, which is made from kangaroo skin. Any boost in sales will accelerate the bloodshed in Australia - and may even lead to the extinction of the country's national symbol. A severe drought has led to a collapse in numbers and a report leaked to the Australian press reveals that the Government now admits that the annual cull is unsustainable. There are no longer enough kangaroos to satisfy the demands of the killing industry.
"Does David Beckham really need money so badly that he's prepared to endorse the world's biggest wildlife massacre?" says Viva! campaigner, Justin Kerswell. "A combination of drought and commercial greed is in danger of showing Australia's national symbol a red card - likely extinction. Beckham happily accepts Australian government assurances that everything is fine and continues to kick the world's wildlife when it's down. I wonder if he knows that those responsible for advising the Government are entirely funded by the kangaroo industry. It's like giving Esso responsibility for the Kyoto Agreement".
A copy of Viva!'s letter to David Beckham follows.
For further information on Viva!'s campaign to stop the kangaroo killing, go to www.savethekangaroo.com or call 0117 944 1000.
Mr David Beckham
c/o Real Madrid Club de Futbol
Concha Espina 1
11 May 2004
Viva! was saddened to hear that you have chosen to extend your contract to promote the Adidas brand until 2008.
By continuing to wear the Predator boot, and launching your own signature brand for the company, you have the blood of millions of butchered kangaroos on your hands - and feet. No doubt you have been given assurances that the trade is humane and sustainable. It is neither. We have in the past sent you video evidence revealing the barbarity of the slaughter and even the Australian Government now believes that demand is outstripping supply (see press articles enclosed). A recent severe drought has decimated kangaroo numbers but the killing goes on.
What a tragedy that your little boys face the prospect of never being able to see kangaroos in the wild. Let's hope they never ask you: "What did you do to stop it, daddy?" What you could do is withdraw you support from Adidas until they agree to use cruelty-free alternatives to kangaroo leather.
We hope to hear from you soon.
Notes for Editors: Images and footage of kangaroos and kangaroo shooting are available from Viva!.
8 York Court
T: 0117 944 1000
F: 0117 924 4646