Around the world, including the U.S., endangered wildlife is for sale as products, exotic pets, and in tourist attractions. The savvy traveler knows that just because something is for sale, it does not mean it’s legal or ethical to purchase.
If we do not act quickly, wildlife trafficking will wipe out many endangered species in our lifetime. Wildlife trafficking fuels criminal networks, government instability, and corruption, and threatens human and animal health through the transmission of diseases.
We need your help to stop wildlife trafficking at home and while traveling. Take the savvy travel journey with us below!
How Savvy Are You?
Can you spot the illegal products?
The suitcase in the installation was packed with items you may encounter while traveling abroad. Can you tell the difference between illegal wildlife products and legal alternatives? Click on the tiles below to uncover the 4 legal alternatives.
Bonus: can you also find 2 items to question?
Items to Question
Shop for good, not trafficked goods
Around the world, you’ll find wildlife and plant products for sale—as jewelry, clothes, pets, souvenirs, and more. Before you buy your travel souvenirs, make sure that the country you’re visiting allows the export of its native species and other wildlife that you buy or acquire there.
Some products are made from protected animals and plants and may be illegal to export or import. Other wildlife products may require permits before you can bring them home to the United States. Be a savvy traveler to avoid having your souvenir confiscated or paying a fine—and help to end wildlife trafficking around the world.
Your purchasing choices matter. Avoid products made from endangered species, such as elephant ivory, sea turtle shell, or fur from tigers and spotted cats. Pay close attention to materials used from wildlife, such as exotic skins and leather, coral, and plants. See our quick list below to be savvy!
Travel tip: Ask Before You Buy
Be sure to ask about an item’s origin before buying wildlife products. You should ask:
- What is this product made of?
- Where did this product come from?
- Does the country I’m visiting allow the sale and export of this product?
- Do I need permits or other documents from this country or the United States to bring this item home?
Eat well, not wild
Discover new delicacies, but look out for products made from endangered species. Always avoid soups made from shark fins and sea turtles and say no to medicines and herbal remedies that contain endangered species such as tiger bone, rhino horn, pangolin scales, or Asiatic black bear.
Foods from species that are threatened, might be legal but are regulated, meaning permits might be required to bring them back to the United States, such as caviar, queen conch, and giant clam meat.
The consumption of wild animals for consumption can also pose a human and animal health risk. Live animal markets contain many species of wild animals—alive and dead—that are sharing space with domestic animals and are sold for human consumption. Avoid visiting markets that sell live animals—especially live wild animals for human consumption.
Travel tip: Ask about ingredients and their sources whenever you consume something unfamiliar. When in doubt, don’t buy it or consume it. Your choices will help end wildlife trafficking.
Take memories, not selfies
Be amazed by the wildlife you see on your travels, but be wary of people who offer selfies and petting opportunities with animals. Before you sign up for a wildlife tour or encounter, or visit a roadside animal attraction, make sure the vendor is accredited and reputable.
All wildlife facilities are not created equal. Around the world, you will find roadside zoos, backyard menageries, traveling exhibits, and pseudo-sanctuaries that use their animals for exploitation and profit and lack proper animal care. Always look for a seal of approval from an accrediting body that upholds rigorous standards of management and animal care, such as the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA), European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA), and Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS).
Travel Tip: Search for facilities that are accredited by AZA, EAZA, and GFAS.
Download the materials below to take with you in your next trip!
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