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Tuesday 1 September 2015
The SEA LIFE London Aquarium today began preparing a new display, showing for the first time a collection of animal ‘souvenirs’ seized by customs at UK airports, to highlight the detrimental affects of the illegal wildlife trade. The prohibited items - including a critically endangered Hawksbill turtle shell, the skull of a dolphin, a baby Caiman crocodile and a 12.5cm Sperm whale’s tooth - will be displayed from 12th - 27thSeptember.
Illegal wildlife trade is one of the biggest threats to the survival of some of the world’s most endangered species. Reportedly worth up to £6.4 billion per year*, the practice is accelerating the rate of some species extinction at an alarming rate. To highlight this, the attraction’s education team will show the items, giving talks and sharing facts about the animals exhibited. For example, seahorses are being taken from the wild for use in traditional Chinese medicine and as a result could be extinct in the wild in just 20-30 years. Green Sea turtles face a similar fate. Already endangered, their shells are used for jewellery and trinkets for tourists and their eggs are considered a delicacy.
Rebecca Carter, Education and Conservation Manager at the SEA LIFE London Aquarium, commented: “We have lost 50 per cent of the world’s wildlife population over the past 40 years alone*, in part due to the illegal wildlife trade – it’s a shocking figure. Worryingly, many of the items seized by UK customs every year belong to species already threatened with extinction, including the Hawksbill turtle we have on display here. We also know that for some items, like dried seahorses, most people simply don’t realise the damage they are doing by buying them - we want to show them, explain the issues and halt demand for these items.”
The seized items will be on display at SEA LIFE London Aquarium alongside themed talks from 12-27 September.