Savvy travelers can stop wildlife trafficking from SEA Airport and beyond

One-of-a-kind educational facility empowers international travelers to prevent wildlife trafficking in the way they shop, eat and live abroad

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA), Association of Zoos & Aquariums’ Wildlife Trafficking Alliance (WTA), Woodland Park Zoo, Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, and Northwest Trek Wildlife Park are teaming up to unveil a first-of-its-kind interactive installation to help stop wildlife trafficking. Arriving just in time for the summer travel season, the resumption of international travel and the opening of the airport’s new international arrivals facility, the educational exhibit empowers international travelers to prevent wildlife trafficking in how they buy, eat and live abroad. Located opposite Gate S1, the display is in Concourse S, SEA’s hub for departing international flights.

The installation invites travelers to be good stewards of global animal populations and uphold the law by pledging to be a “wise traveler” who makes choices that help save endangered animals around the world. The contents of the exhibit feature examples of confiscated material being illegally trafficked and information on the decline of animal species due to the illegal wildlife trade. He also shares the positive impacts of conservation and education efforts. Wildlife artifacts have been selected to highlight the diversity of objects travelers may encounter. Some wildlife items have been paired with durable look-alikes to highlight the existence of legal alternatives and the challenges of identifying wildlife products without knowing the right questions to ask.

“Travelers care deeply about the places they choose to visit, but are sometimes unaware of the unintended impacts of their actions and how they can be avoided,” said Seattle Port Commissioner Fred Felleman. “The Port is proud to present the Savvy Traveler Expo to educate the millions of international travelers who pass through the airport each year so people know how they can make a difference. This facility helps us learn how to buy legal and ethical souvenirs, eat sustainably, and photograph wildlife responsibly. We must all do our part to protect endangered wildlife and marine life around the world, as well as here in Washington. I encourage everyone to take the Wise Traveler Pledge before your next trip.

“Wildlife trafficking is decimating animal populations and supporting international criminal syndicates around the world,” said Dan Ashe, President and CEO, Association of Zoos & Aquariums. “AZA’s Wildlife Trafficking Alliance is honored to partner with this consortium to make the facility a reality. As the demand for wildlife and trafficked products drives thousands of animals to the extinction, consumers hold the key to ending the scourge of wildlife trafficking. By aligning our actions with our values, we can work together to protect precious species for the benefit of our planet, our safety and our lives. future generations.

“As a zoo, we work to preserve and protect endangered species. But we don’t want the only place these animals exist to be in zoos.” said Woodland Park Zoo President and CEO Alejandro Grajal. “Wildlife trafficking is not just about smuggling animals across borders. It can be unintentional and subtle, and we can all contribute to the solution by thinking about what we buy, eat and photograph. When we work together to protect animals, we create a sustainable planet for all of us, because the health and survival of wildlife is directly linked to the health of our global ecosystems.

“When we care about wildlife, we take action to protect it today and for future generations,” said Alan Varsik, director of Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium and Northwest Trek Wildlife Park. “Some examples of illegal wildlife trade, such as elephant ivory and rhino horn, are well known while others, such as tiger bones and radiated tortoise shells, are not. Yet the impacts are equally devastating and threaten the survival of too many endangered species around the world.

“The illegal wildlife trade is estimated to generate $20 billion a year in illegal products,” said Dr. Sam Wasser, co-executive director and professor of biology at the Center for Environmental Forensic Science at the University of Washington.. “It is estimated that the illegal ivory trade generates $4 billion a year. Most smuggled ivory consists of whole, unworked tusks. The tusks are bought and stored by investors who seem to be betting on the extinction of the elephants so that the ivory can once again be sold legally. While law enforcement plays a vital role in stopping the illegal trade, the ease with which large volumes of ivory can be moved around the world makes it unlikely that law enforcement can stop the trade. trade by itself. The only lasting solution is to permanently eliminate demand. Please help us achieve this goal.

The installation at SEA is a pilot project for the AZA’s Wildlife Trafficking Alliance, which will be followed by two additional exhibits in 2022 at major US airports. Pending evaluation of the project, WTA will seek additional exposures in the coming years in the United States and beyond.

Other partners supporting the SEA facility include the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the University of Washington Center for Environmental Forensic Science.

Clever and durable

All over the world, including the United States, endangered wildlife species are for sale as products, exotic pets, and tourist attractions. The wise traveler knows that just because something is for sale doesn’t make it legal or ethical to buy. If we don’t act quickly, wildlife trafficking will wipe out many endangered species in our lifetime. Wildlife trafficking fuels criminal networks, destabilizes governments, incites corruption and threatens human and animal health through disease transmission.

Each panel in the display focuses on a single activity – shopping, dining and experiences – and provides advice on how to avoid illegal wildlife products. The actions presented are those that all travelers can take to help stop the illegal wildlife trade, such as asking the origin of an item or dish before purchasing it. The wildlife artifacts featured in the exhibit have been specifically selected to highlight some commonly available products and show the diversity of items you may encounter on your travels. Some of the items are associated with durable look-alikes. These examples show legal alternatives and show how difficult it can be to identify wildlife products without knowing what questions to ask. All wildlife products on display were confiscated by Washington State authorities.

A passenger walks to the wildlife exhibit at SEA Airport
The first interactive installation of its kind to help stop wildlife trafficking at SEA. || Credit: Katie Cotterill, Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium and Northwest Trek Wildlife Park

Buy quality goods, not trades

Your purchasing choices are important. Avoid products made from endangered species, such as elephant ivory, sea turtle shell, or tiger and spotted cat fur. Pay particular attention to materials used from wildlife, such as exotic skins and leather and coral. And don’t forget to research the origin of an item before buying it.

Eat well, not wild

Discover new specialties but watch out for products made from endangered species. Avoid shark and turtle fin soups and say no to medicines and herbal remedies containing tiger bone, rhino horn, pangolin scales or other illegally obtained ingredients. Ask about the ingredients and their sources when consuming something unknown.

Take memories, not selfies

Be amazed by the wildlife you see on your travels, but be wary of people offering selfies and petting opportunities. Before signing up for a wildlife tour or encounter, or visiting a roadside animal attraction, make sure the vendor is accredited and reputable.

Take the pledge

We need your help to end wildlife trafficking at home and on the go. Pledge today to make choices that help save endangered animals around the world.

Learn more at


Perry Cooper | SEA Airport Press Officer
(206) 787-4923 | [email protected]

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