End Wildlife Trafficking

End Wildlife Trafficking

The list of species impacted by domestic and international wildlife trafficking and trade is extensive. Rhinos and tigers are killed and harvested for traditional medicine. Reptiles and birds are captured and sold as pets. Many species are heavily traded without regard for welfare of the individuals or the impact to their wild population, including some represented at Lincoln Park Zoo, such as Asian small-clawed otters, Bali mynas, Chinese hwamei, red-billed leiothrix, black tree monitors, sloths, and pygmy slow loris.

A Global Concern

The illegal trafficking of wildlife products is driving the wild population decline of many species. This illicit trade is valued at up to $10 billion per year, behind only drugs, weapons, and human trafficking. In the United States, illegal imports are typically related to souvenir or trophy items. In the European Union, exotic pets and fashion items are the primary drivers for illegal imports. And in Southeast Asia, most illegal imports are used for food, traditional medicine, and trophies. In addition to its devastating impacts on wildlife populations, the illegal wildlife trade puts humans at risk, increasing the chances of diseases spilling over and seriously threatening wildlife and human health.

Take Action With Us

Pause Before Posting

Avoid sharing images and videos of exotic animals as pets or performers. If you are traveling, do not pose for photos with exotic pets or pay to see any that live in poor conditions. The inappropriate use of wildlife has negative effects on welfare and conservation, and may encourage illegal trafficking.

Ask for the Origin

While traveling, be an inquisitive and smart shopper. Don’t buy products made from exotic wild animals or animal parts. This can reduce the chance of unknowingly supporting practices that harm wildlife.

Spread the Word

Tell friends and family, both in conversation and on social media, how wildlife trafficking harms animal populations around the world. Follow the zoo’s social media channels to see relevant updates on how you can Take Action With Us, and share those updates on your channels.

Our Work

Wildlife Trafficking Alliance

As partners in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Wildlife Trafficking Alliance, staff work to amplify messages to visitors and colleagues about trafficking and the illegal wildlife trade.

Saving Asian Songbirds

Lincoln Park Zoo’s Animal Care staff is represented on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Asian Songbird Specialist group, which works to mitigate the decline of Asian songbird populations due to unsustainable harvesting related to the illegal pet trade. Zoo staff also lead the Bali Myna Species Survival Plan®, which helps manage zoo populations of a critically endangered songbird that is threatened in the wild because of poaching for the pet trade, and works with international partners on conservation initiatives for this species.

Rehoming Confiscated Reptiles

Animal Care staff works with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) on confiscations of reptiles that have been trafficked through Chicago O’Hare International Airport, which is a significant conduit for domestic and international animal shipments. Many other types of animals are also confiscated at the airport, including corals, invertebrates, fish, birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. Over the past 25 years, Lincoln Park Zoo has temporarily and/or permanently taken possession of more than 220 illegally trafficked animals confiscated at O’Hare.

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External Resources

  • The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service provides more details on the illegal wildlife trade.
  • The Wildlife Trafficking Alliance joined forces with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) in a united effort to fight the global epidemic of wildlife trafficking.
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