By Jacob Wolinsky, Value Walk
SILVER SPRING, MD: A coalition of conservation organizations are teaming up with AZA-accredited zoos to organize a series of ivory surrender events that encourage public participation in the fight to save elephants from wildlife trafficking. Taking place at leading zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) across the U.S., the public will be able to bring their unwanted ivory for proper disposal.
The events are being organized by AZA’s Wildlife Trafficking Alliance (WTA), with support from longstanding leaders in conservation including the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).
“Worldwide demand for ivory is decimating elephant populations and supporting international criminal syndicates around the globe,” said Dan Ashe, President and CEO, Association of Zoos & Aquariums. “AZA’s Wildlife Trafficking Alliance is honored to partner with leading conservation organizations and AZA-accredited facilities on these important public events. Because demand for ivory products is driving elephants toward extinction, consumers hold the key to ending the scourge of wildlife trafficking. By putting our actions in line with our values we can work together to protect elephants and other treasured species for the benefit of our planet, our security, and future generations.”
Today’s announcement is a significant step forward in the effort to save elephants. One elephant is killed approximately every twenty-five minutes to fuel the voracious global demand for ivory products. The United States is a significant market for these products, which means that demand from American consumers has a tremendous influence on whether elephants will become extinct within our lifetime. By surrendering ivory people have in their homes, ensuring it will never hold value in the market, the public can send a strong signal to the world that elephants are worth more alive.
According to Beth Allgood, IFAW U.S. Country Director: “A recent national survey conducted by the Beekeeper Group found that nearly 75% of Americans support the U.S.’s near-total ban on ivory trade, and of those few that were opposed, 44% said it was because the ban doesn’t go far enough. Ending U.S. demand for ivory is critical to ensuring a future for elephants and “Toss the Tusk” events provide a proactive and meaningful way for the public to clearly show that they value elephants over ivory. ”
Said John Calvelli, WCS Executive Vice President for Public Affairs and Director of WCS’s 96 Elephants Campaign: “We believe ivory belongs on one thing: living elephants. Through a unique partnership between the Zoo community, ‘Toss the Tusk’ gives the public a direct opportunity to take a stand for elephants and be part of this global movement to stop the killing, stop the trafficking, and stop the demand. Together, we will save these animals from extinction.”