Although the zoo, which is part of the Zoological Society of London, told HuffPost UK that the display has been in place for several years, it has found online fame overnight after one account tweeted about it.
The Twitter account (which goes by the name Moonbeam Hillgoth) tweeted an image of the display with the caption: “London zoo not pissing around.”
The zoo has attached a sign beneath the real crocodile skin item which reads: “This bag used to be found swimming in slow-moving rivers and streams across Southeast Asia and Indonesia.
“Over the last 75 years more than 80% of Siamese crocodiles have disappeared.
“Many, like this one, were hunted for their skins as part of the illegal wildlife trade.”
In less than 24 hours, the tweet accrued more than 177,000 likes as Twitter users delighted in the subtle activism:
Ben Tapley, curator of reptiles and amphibians at ZSL London Zoo also hold HuffPost UK how the handbag ended up making such a statement.
He said: “The handbag, made from the skin of a Critically Endangered Siamese crocodile, was confiscated at a UK airport, and given to ZSL London Zoo to use for educational purposes.
“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.
“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.”