Zoo Explains Why a Handbag Lives Inside an Enclosure as Tweet Goes Viral

Whether you're a kangaroo fan or have a soft spot for sloths, there are many reasons animal lovers take a trip to the zoo. Visiting a handbag isn't usually one of them.

The London Zoo's Siamese crocodile display is taking over the internet due to its poignant message. A photo posted by Twitter user @sleepy_homo shows a crocodile skin handbag on display in an enclosure designed for a live Siamese crocodile, in a stand against using animal fur and skin in fashion.

Captioned London zoo not p****** around, since going live on August 2, the tweet has received more than 370,000 likes and over 60,000 retweets.

According to PETA, more than 1 billion animals are killed for their skin or hides annually worldwide. Louis Vuitton and Gucci came under fire in December 2021 after a PETA investigation revealed the fashion brands were creating accessories using snakes and lizards that were savagely killed in "slaughterhouses" in Indonesia.

Zoo Explains Handbag Living Inside Enclosure
The London Zoo is drawing online attention for its display of a handbag in an exhibit designed for a Siamese crocodile. The fresh water crocodile native to Asia is critically endangered and already exterminated from many regions as it its skin is used for items such as the handbag on display. @sleepy_homo

Reptiles such as pythons, caimans, rat snakes, monitor lizards, tegu lizards, alligators and crocodiles are routinely hunted for their skins. Although some are bred to be used for fashion, many are taken directly from the jungles of Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand.

Accompanying the exhibit at London Zoo is a plaque that reads: "This bag used to be found swimming in slow-moving rivers and streams across South East Asia and Indonesia.

"Over the last 75 years, more than 80 percent of Siamese crocodiles have disappeared. Many, like this one, were hunted for their skin as part of the illegal wildlife trade."

Dr. Ben Tapley, Curator of Reptiles and Amphibians at ZSL (Zoological Society of London) London Zoo, said the bag was confiscated at a UK airport and handed to the zoo as an education tool.

"We made this exhibit, within ZSL London Zoo's Reptile House, to draw visitors' attention to the devastating impact the Illegal Wildlife Trade (IWT) is having on species around the world," Tapley told Newsweek. "At ZSL we are working globally with governments and local communities to protect wildlife, support law enforcement that targets trafficking networks, empower local communities affected by IWT and reduce demand for threatened wildlife."

Twitter users applauded London Zoo for taking action, with user Ren Elizabeth describing the exhibit as "art."

"We need more unexpected activism from 'normal' places like this," she wrote.

"So powerful," agreed user shanu sadhwani.

While user Anna Janes commented: "Highlighting a serious problem, but I love their approach."

Newsweek has reached out to @sleepy_homo for comment.