Initiative Aimed at Eliminating Illegal Trade of Wildlife and Wildlife Products Trade 

Wildlife Tracking Display at LAX

LOS ANGELES, CA — June 11, 2024 — The Los Angeles Zoo is proud to announce the installation of a new exhibit at Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). The display brings the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA)’s “I Travel for Wildlife” campaign to Los Angeles with the intent of eliminating the trade of illegal wildlife and wildlife products that fuels the depletion of wildlife populations across the globe. 

Featuring authentic contraband confiscated and donated by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) and California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), the display showcases items commonly available to travelers overseas, such as jewelry, accessories, purses, and decorative items. Each example serves as a sobering reminder of the toll exacted by the illegal wildlife trade on endangered species and ecosystems. 

Through informational signage, the display also highlights the urgent message that the illegal wildlife trade is driving species to extinction. These signs underscore the critical importance of acting to combat this trade and emphasize the role of every individual in preserving global biodiversity. 

The campaign’s goal is to reduce the demand for illegal wildlife products by engaging and educating travelers who might unknowingly contribute to the problem through purchases made while abroad. This is the fourth airport installation that is part of a larger partnership between AZA’s Wildlife Trafficking Alliance (WTA), AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums, airports, and state wildlife agencies. LAX’s installation is the result of a partnership between AZA’s WTA, the Los Angeles Zoo, and LAX with support from Aquarium of the Pacific, Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, CDFW, and USFWS. 

The L.A. Zoo is actively engaged in raising public awareness, reducing consumer demand for illegal wildlife and wildlife products, and mobilizing companies in various sectors to adopt best practices to end wildlife trafficking. 

“As a Platinum Partner of the Wildlife Trafficking Alliance, the Los Angeles Zoo is committed to combating wildlife trafficking,” said Denise M. Verret, Los Angeles Zoo CEO & Zoo Director. “This project underscores the City of Los Angeles’ collaborative effort to combat the illegal wildlife trade. Los Angeles is a major port of entry for illegal wildlife, and we recognize the importance of coordinated action to address this pressing global issue. By partnering with LAX and AZA’s WTA, the Los Angeles Zoo is furthering its commitment to wildlife conservation and creating a just and sustainable world where people and wildlife thrive, together.” 

“As a major gateway to the United States, LAX plays a crucial role in intercepting illegal wildlife products. The newly installed ‘I Travel for Wildlife’ exhibit at the airport serves as a reminder of the impact of illegal wildlife trade on ecosystems and communities worldwide,” said Martin Elam, Deputy Executive Director of Public Safety & Security, Los Angeles World Airports. “Through our partnership with the Los Angeles Zoo and AZA’s Wildlife Trafficking Alliance, we are committed to taking proactive measures to combat this illicit trade and protect wildlife for future generations.” 

“Wildlife trafficking isn’t just a wildlife problem, it’s also a people problem,” said Dan Ashe, President & CEO, Association of Zoos & Aquariums. “This industry fuels criminal networks, destabilizes governments, incites corruption, and introduces injurious and invasive species, and threatens the health of humans and animals through the transmission of diseases. AZA is proud to work with the Los Angeles Zoo and our other project partners to bring this important installation to the Los Angeles International Airport. Together, we can stop wildlife trafficking.” 

The illegal wildlife trade is the fourth most lucrative illicit global trade behind drugs, firearms, and human trafficking. Wildlife trafficking impacts the conservation of species and the health, safety, and livelihoods of people. Illegal wildlife trade dramatically increases the risk of new diseases entering U.S. borders and spreading to people or livestock. The nefarious illegal wildlife trade industry affects the local communities that these animals call home, threatens the rule of law, and supports global corruption and funds other dangerous and destabilizing criminal activities. A diversity of species fall prey to this industry and end up entering through U.S. airports, including products made from elephant ivory or rhinoceros’ horn and items lesser known by the public, like coral necklaces and pangolin skin belts, all of which are on display at the “I Travel for Wildlife” exhibit. 

The collaborative effort involved in ending illegal wildlife trafficking exemplifies the power of collective action in addressing global conservation challenges. By leveraging their respective strengths and resources, these partners aim to foster a culture of responsible tourism and collective action to protect wildlife and preserve biodiversity. The hope is that this new display inspires positive change and creates a more sustainable future for all. More information can be found at itravelforwildlife.org/lax

About the Los Angeles Zoo 

The Los Angeles Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and is dedicated to providing exemplary animal care and wellbeing. As a trusted leader in local and global conservation efforts, the Los Angeles Zoo is saving wildlife and connecting Angelenos to the natural world by delivering diverse learning opportunities and creating unforgettable experiences. The lush 133-acre campus and its passionate and dedicated team welcomes all to be inspired by the Zoo’s vision to create a just and sustainable world where people and wildlife thrive, together. The Zoo is located on Zoo Drive in Griffith Park at the junction of the Ventura (134) and Golden State (5) freeways.