The arrival of soccer star David Beckham to California has already got merchandisers looking to make a profit from his fans. Adidas had planned to sell the same shoes that Beckham wears during games to the public. However, the California Supreme Court has banned the sale of these cleats because they are made from kangaroo leather. Animal rights activists support this ruling which overturned two lower court decisions that the California kangaroo ban interferes with federal support of Australia’s wildlife management plans.

The Australian government sides with Adidas who say that about 25 million kangaroos populate the continent and hunting them is the best way to keep the population down. However, animal activists say that in hunting kangaroos, hunters sometimes mistakenly shoot endangered species. Also they believe that kangaroos are killed in cruel ways including hunting parties and being clubbed to death as babies. In 1971, California banned the sale of products made from kangaroos and animals who were in danger of extinction. In 1974, the federal Fish and Wildlife agency determined that three kangaroos species could be considered threatened. In response to this, they banned the import of goods made with marsupial skins.

In 1995, the kangaroo populations in Australia were said to have recovered and kangaroo leather was once again made legal for importation into the United States. Adidas uses this particular type of leather because they are said to make lighter and more airy shoes to play soccer in. Beckham himself has worn the shoes for years but has since stated that his shoes were now made of synthetic leather instead of kangaroo hide.

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