The Chinese New Year marked the start of the Year of the Snake, but snakes, alligators, lizards and crocodiles in many places around the world, from the Philippines to the United States to South Africa, are being painfully stripped of their skin – usually while still alive – so that their "exotic" skins can be made into belts, bags, shoes and even jackets. PETA UK and international affiliates are leading the global fight to stop the vile exotic-skins trade and to spare these animals tremendous pain and suffering. Every snakeskin belt, every alligator wallet or handbag and every other exotic-animal skin sold to consumers starts with horrific suffering. We must make sure that everyone knows that snakes are routinely taken from their homes and nailed to trees before being skinned alive and tossed onto a pile to die. They can suffer for days before succumbing to shock or dehydration. Alligators are kept crowded together in filthy tanks on farms before being clubbed and skinned alive. A PETA US investigation of an alligator farm documented gruesome slaughter methods, including chiselling through an animal's spinal column with a pointed instrument and hammer. It can take around two hours filled with intense pain for an animal slaughtered this way to die. Lizards can live as long as 33 years in the wild, but those killed for their skins for fashion are usually clubbed on their heads or have their spines severed with chisels as soon as they reach "marketable" size. Every day, these fascinating forest and river animals are trapped and beaten and have their skin ripped from their bodies simply to create a fashion look. clothing retailer ANN INC, which operates more than 900 Ann Taylor and LOFT stores in the US, banned the use of exotic skins. Mango, which has 2,060 clothing stores in 104 countries, and the PUMA Group, which distributes footwear and apparel in more than 120 countries, banned fur and exotic skins from their product lines. This spares countless animals a horrifically painful death.