Toss the Tusk
Toss The Tusk is a series of events taking place at AZA-accredited facilities across the United States to raise awareness about the elephant poaching crisis and the illegal ivory trade. Organized by Association of Zoos & Aquariums’ Wildlife Trafficking Alliance, International Fund for Animal Welfare, and Wildlife Conservation Society, ‘Toss The Tusk’ encourages the public to stand up for elephants by attending a local event and “surrendering” their unwanted ivory.
What You Can Do to Combat Illegal Trade
According to the Wildlife Trafficking Alliance (WTA) the quickest and most direct way to strangle the international syndicates that are orchestrating the killings, is to stigmatize and reduce the demand for illegal wildlife products. Consumers need to be informed and #buyinformed.
Never Buy: Top 5 Products to Avoid
- Ivory: raw or carved – Avoid raw or carved ivory from the teeth or tusks of elephants, whales, walruses, and narwhals. Do not purchase ivory carved into jewelry, carvings, figurines, chopsticks, or hair clips.
- Tiger Products – Avoid products from tigers used in traditional medicine, sold as furs, or as souvenirs or “good luck” charms.
- Rhino Products – Avoid products from rhinos used in traditional medicine, jewelry, or souvenirs.
- All Sea Turtle Products – Avoid jewelry, hair combs and sunglass frames made from sea turtle shell. Do not buy sea turtle meat, soup, eggs, facial creams, shells, leathers, boots, handbags, and other goods made from sea turtle skin.
- Medicinals – Avoid traditional medicines made from rhino, tiger, leopard, Asiatic black bear, or musk deer.
Buy Carefully: Top 5 Products to Question
- Reptile Leather Products – Many garments including belts, handbags, watchbands, and shoes are made from non-endangered species and are ok to purchase. However, certain leather products may contain caiman, crocodiles, lizards and snakes. Check that your product has a CITES permit before purchasing.
- Coral and Shells – Many countries limit the collection, sale, and export of live coral and coral products. If you want to purchase coral as a souvenir, jewelry, or aquarium decoration, find out if you need a CITES permit to bring it back to the U.S. Permits may also be required to bring back queen conch shells from many Caribbean countries.
- Wild Bird Feathers – Most wild bird feathers require permits, including from parrots, macaws, cockatoos and finches.
- Furs – Beware when purchasing furs while traveling abroad. Most of the world’s wild cats are protected and you cannot import skins or items made using the fur of these protected animals.
- Wools – Shahtoosh shawls are woven with the down hair of the protected Tibetan antelope. However, travelers may import clothing made from vicuna (a South American mammal) with a permit from the country of purchase.
Learn more at: WildlifeTraffickingAlliance.org/TossTheTusk
Why should I surrender my ivory?
We must act quickly and effectively to save elephants from extinction. But most importantly, we must act together. By surrendering ivory, you will ensure that these products will never be made available on the market. And by removing ivory products from the market, we can reduce demand and keep these majestic animals alive for generations to come.
How do I surrender ivory?
Attend a Toss The Tusk event near you and we’ll help you! Authorized agents will be on site to take your ivory products and zoo staff will be available to help ensure an easy process.
Will I get in trouble for surrendering my ivory?
No. It is not illegal in the United States to own or possess ivory or ivory products. It is illegal, however, to commercially trade most ivory and ivory products in the U.S.
Is owning ivory illegal?
On July 6, 2016, a near-total ban on the commercial trade of African elephant ivory went into effect in the United States. However, the new regulations do not restrict personal possession of ivory. If you already own ivory-an heirloom carving that’s been passed down in your family, or a vintage musical instrument with ivory components-you can still legally own those pieces.
Where will the ivory go?
Each AZA-accredited facility will work with its state wildlife agency to ensure the safe collection and transport of surrendered ivory products. Ivory collected during the events will be used for educational purposes, or properly disposed of.
How else can I help elephants?
Even if you do not have ivory to surrender, we hope you will attend a Toss The Tusk event to show your support for elephants! Other ways you can help elephants are:
- Share a message on social media using the hashtag #TossTheTusk, alerting your friends and family about the elephant poaching crisis and illegal ivory trade in the U.S.
- Learn how to #BuyInformed to ensure you are not inadvertently contributing to the illegal trade while you shop or travel: WildlifeTraffickingAlliance.org/BuyInformed.
- Take Action to help combat wildlife trafficking, including supporting the Wildlife Conservation and Anti-Trafficking Act (H.R. 864) and the Reauthorization of the Save Vanishing Species Semipostal Stamp: aza.org/legislative-education-center#/
How do zoos & aquariums support elephant conservation?
Conservation is a priority for AZA-accredited institutions and is a key component of their missions. As wild populations of elephants continue to decline in Africa and Asia, AZA accredited zoos are playing a vital role as stewards of an important part of the world’s heritage. As of January 2019, AZA facilities are caring for over 300 African and Asian elephants in 61 AZA-accredited facilities.
Members of the AZA are very involved in elephant conservation efforts, contributing over $13 million to elephant conservation field projects between 2013 and 2017. In addition, Asian elephants are an AZA SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction species program, which will combine the power of nearly 200 million annual visitors with the expertise and resources of AZA members and partners to work on saving Asian elephants from extinction. AZA and its members are also strong supporters of 96 Elephants, which seeks to educate the public on how the demand for ivory is leading to the senseless slaughter of 96 elephants per day in Africa, and what actions they can take to stop the demand.
Where can I report wildlife crime?
If you suspect someone is selling illegal ivory in the United States, you can make an anonymous report to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service tip line at 1-844-FWS-TIPS or [email protected].