Reese Witherspoon

Fame Pictures

Reese Witherspoon didn't skin the python herself, but that's little comfort to PETA.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals unloaded on the Oscar winner today after she was photographed toting a designer bag made with genuine python skin.

"No matter how much Reese paid for that bag, the animals paid a much higher price," the animal-rights group said in a statement. (For the record, Witherspoon's Chloe Paraty purse costs $3,820.)

And PETA didn't hold back in detailing what, exactly, that higher price entails.

"Every year, millions of snakes are impaled on hooks or nailed to trees by their heads and skinned alive," the statement continued. "Hoses are inserted into the mouths of large snakes—like pythons—and their bodies are pumped full of water to loosen their skin so that it will cut away more easily. The animals' peeled, writhing bodies are then discarded, and it often takes days for the animals to die from the effects of shock and dehydration. We can't imagine that she'd wish to contribute to this hidden suffering, especially for something as frivolous as a fashion accessory that can be replicated with no bloodshed.

"These days, it's easy to have a look that kills without killing—with fake snake, mock croc, python pleather, and other designer items that pay tribute to the beauty of these animals without massacring them."

PETA spokeswoman Jane Dollinger tells E! News that they plan on sending Witherspoon—deemed one of PETA's Sexiest Vegetarian Celebrities in 2006—a video, narrated by Witherspoon's Walk the Line costar Joaquin Phoenix, about cruelty within the exotic skins industry.

And though Phoenix is involved, it's the real deal.

UPDATE: "Thankfully, Reese has just informed PETA that she will no longer carry the bag," the organization said in a statement the following day.

‘We've long known Reese to be a kind person, so we're pleased—and not surprised—that she is hanging up her python bag for good,'' says PETA senior VP Lisa Lange. ‘We hope Reese's honest mistake will serve as a reminder for all of us to be extra-certain that what we're buying is mock crock or fake snake."

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