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The L.A. Zoo Honors World Wildlife Day by Joining National ‘Not A Pet’ Campaign

The Zoo joins the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the International Fund for Animal Welfare in educating the public about the illegal pet trade

The Los Angeles Zoo is celebrating World Wildlife Day by joining the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) in the ‘Not a Pet’ campaign. This initiative is designed to educate the public on the illegal pet trade of exotic wildlife. Zoo guests will learn how they can make better choices when considering adding a pet to their family in addition to the harrowing stories behind some of the Zoo’s iconic animals that were part of this illegal trade. The campaign will also help guests understand the risks to animal and human health and the specialized and expensive care required for these wild animals.

“It is so fitting that we are launching this campaign in time for World Wildlife Day – a day where we celebrate the diversity of the animal kingdom and the contributions they make to our world and lives,” said Denise M. Verret, CEO & Zoo Director, L.A. Zoo. “The L.A. Zoo has a storied partnership with both federal and state agencies saving exotic animals from illegal ownership because of our unique and extensive expertise in animal care and health. As a partner of the Wildlife Trafficking Alliance and Southern California Confiscations Network, the Zoo is the perfect place to educate Angelenos about this harmful industry, which takes place right here in our City, day-in and day-out, from LAX to the Port of Los Angeles.”

Some of the animal ambassadors for this campaign are American alligators Reggie and Tina, both of whom were previously illegally owned as pets, as well as Madagascar tortoises (reptile), Bali myna (bird), and ring-tailed lemurs (primate). Striking and bold red signs are located throughout the Zoo that tells the species’ story and the challenges people face when purchasing these exotic animals as pets. More information about this campaign is available on the Zoo’s website at lazoo.org/notapet and will also be highlighted on the Zoo’s social media @lazoo.

“Los Angeles is one of the biggest import locations for illegal wildlife in the U.S.,” said Dr. Jake Owens, Director of Conservation, L.A. Zoo. “This illicit industry, which is driving the extinction of species, is valued up to $23 billion dollars per year, making it the fourth largest illegal trade behind drugs, human trafficking, and counterfeiting. We are excited about this new opportunity to engage with our guests to help them understand how their actions and purchasing decisions can help save species from extinction. We hope that by visiting our Zoo, a potential exotic pet owner will become a wildlife advocate and help champion the future of biodiversity.”

“High global demand for exotic pets fuels the illegal capture and trade of millions of animals,” said Dan Ashe, President and CEO of the AZA. “The burden of that trade falls on law enforcement to confiscate the animals and extends to AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums to provide emergency care and long-term placement. Southern California is a hot spot for illegal trade. We are grateful to the L.A. Zoo for joining the ‘Not A Pet’ campaign and leading the conservation community on this important issue.”

Demand for exotic pets is prevalent, as evidenced by IFAW’s years of research and monitoring of online marketplaces and the rapid rise in AZA-accredited facilities needing to work with law enforcement officials to place confiscated wild animals. A simple online search can lead someone to purchase a protected species, including live birds, small mammals, turtles, and other reptiles. Wildlife trade laws are complex and vary by species, state, and even county or city jurisdiction.

“Trading and trafficking in live animals entails a broad spectrum of risks to both people and animals,” said Danielle Kessler, U.S. Director, IFAW “We’re thrilled to have the L.A. Zoo as a partner in the Not a Pet campaign, serving as a critical voice in educating the public about the implications of exotic pet ownership and the incredible risks involved.”

AZA and IFAW launched the national ‘Not a Pet’ campaign to shed a spotlight on the illegal trade of live wild animals sold as pets in the U.S. while also highlighting the risk of disease emergence, spillover, and spread caused by the legal and illegal live exotic pet trade. Learn more about the joint effort at the campaign’s website, NotAPet.net.

About the Los Angeles Zoo

Accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), the landmark Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens, drawing more than 1.8 million visitors each year, is home to a diverse collection of nearly 2,000 animals representing 290 different species, 66 of which are endangered. Its lush grounds on 133 acres feature various plant species from around the world and California including many rare and endangered species. The Zoo is located in Griffith Park at the junction of the Ventura (134) and Golden State (5) freeways. Admission is $22 for adults and $17 for children ages 2 to 12. For information, call (323) 644-4200 or visit the L.A. Zoo website at lazoo.org.

About the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA)

Founded in 1924, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, animal welfare, education, science and recreation. AZA is the accrediting body for the top zoos and aquariums in the United States and 12 other countries. Look for the AZA accreditation logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium as your assurance that you are supporting a facility dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you, and a better future for all living things. The AZA is a leader in saving species and your link to helping animals all over the world. To learn more, visit www.aza.org.

About the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)

IFAW is a global non-profit helping animals and people thrive together. We are experts and everyday people, working across seas, oceans and in more than 40 countries around the world. We rescue, rehabilitate and release animals, and we restore and protect their natural habitats. The problems we’re up against are urgent and complicated. To solve them, we match fresh thinking with bold action. We partner with local communities, governments, non-governmental organizations and businesses. Together, we pioneer new and innovative ways to help all species flourish. See how at www.ifaw.org.