We invite guests to visit the Zoo for this “Toss the Tusk” event to surrender illegal products and learn more about this effort. Guest who wish to participate may bring their items to the Zoo’s main entrance. Admission is not necessary to engage in the “Toss the Tusk” event.
➜ In partnership with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
➜ In collaboration with the Association of Zoos & Aquariums and Wildlife Trafficking Alliance
Surrendering items made from wildlife parts permanently removes them from the market and helps to reduce the demand for wildlife trafficking.
Examples of materials accepted:
- Elephant ivory
- Hippo ivory
- Turtle shell
- Exotic leather
- Helmeted hornbills
- Narwhal ivory
- Walrus ivory
- Warthog ivory
- Toothed whales
- Horns from protected species
Handles of weapons
Where will the items go?
Ivory surrendered at Toss the Tusk events is collected by representatives from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, then safely transported to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife National Wildlife Property Repository in Colorado.
Once there it will be stored securely, and benefit wildlife conservation in several ways:
Turned in items often become part of education projects inspiring learners of all ages to care about wildlife and do their part to help species around the world.
Law enforcement agencies are vital partners to combat illegal wildlife trafficking. Items are also used as scent training for law enforcement canines, which will help agencies detect and seize illegal ivory shipments.
Conservation scientists also study wildlife products. These products hold important clues to questions about endangered wildlife and can even reveal information about historical or current trade practices.
Other ways to help:
Share a message on social media using the hashtag #tossthetusk, alerting your friends and family about Toss the Tusk.
Purchase Save Vanishing Species stamps to support conservation efforts of African and Asian elephants and other endangered and threatened animals worldwide.
Learn how to #buyinformed to ensure you are not inadvertently contributing to the wildlife trade while you shop or travel.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Toss the Tusk is a series of events taking place at zoos across the United States to raise awareness and change behavior related to illegal wildlife trafficking, including the elephant ivory trade. Organized by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums’ Wildlife Trafficking Alliance (WTA) and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS), Toss the Tusk encourages the public to support long-term conservation efforts by attending a local event and contributing wildlife products, such as ivory, to eliminate them from the market and reduce demand. Learn more about Toss the Tusk here.
Elephant ivory is a hard white substance derived from the tusks of elephants. Tusks are teeth (modified incisors) comprised primarily of dense bone tissue (i.e. dentine). Ivory was used to craft both practical and ornamental goods in certain cultures, and the international trade of elephant ivory was legal and largely unregulated prior to the passage of laws such as the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Demand for ivory poses a serious threat to the long-term survival of elephants, and today, international commercial trade, sale, import and export of ivory products is closely regulated or prohibited.
Guests may contribute material items derived from any protected wildlife species. This includes any wildlife listed under the CITES Appendix I (link), domestic species (link) and foreign Endangered Species Act (link), Migratory Bird Treaty Act (link), and Marine Mammal Protection Act species (link).
If you have questions about your item, individuals at the event will be available to assist you.
Illegal wildlife trafficking is the second largest threat to wildlife after habitat loss and degradation. By helping to eliminate wildlife products such as ivory from the market, you help ensure that they will not drive the demand that leads to trafficking. Contributing your items can help create a brighter future for some of the world’s rarest species.
Ivory surrendered at Toss the Tusk events will be collected by representatives from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and safely transported to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife National Wildlife Property Repository in Colorado, where it will be stored securely. Once there, ivory can support conservation work benefiting elephants in several ways:
Seeing and even touching tusks or ivory carvings is a powerful experience for many people interested in wildlife or conservation. Surrendered items may become part of education projects led by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or may be loaned to other federal agencies, state agencies, accredited zoos or aquariums, museums, universities and more, inspiring learners of all ages to care about wildlife and do their part to help African and Asian elephants and other species around the world. By surrendering elephant ivory, you are supporting educational experiences that create powerful emotional connections with nature, encourage people to seek careers in conservation, increase awareness and understanding about complex wildlife issues, and inspire the next generation of conservation scientists.
Law enforcement agencies are vital partners in efforts to combat the illegal ivory trade. Surrendered ivory items may be used to train law enforcement staff to identify ivory and be used as scent training for law enforcement canines, which will help agencies better detect and seize illegal ivory shipments. These trainings are done with local, state, federal and international law enforcement partners, and support conservation work across the world. Your surrendered ivory products provide agencies and trainers with a wider array of training material, increasing their capacity to recognize illegal elephant ivory products and apprehend ivory traffickers.
Conservation scientists and researchers may examine wildlife products as part of their studies. Raw or carved ivory products may hold important clues to questions about elephants or other species with ivory, or may reveal important information about the historic or current ivory trade. Surrendered ivory products may provide researchers with additional data that might not have existed before and increase the amount of ivory material available for these studies. Findings from this research could be used to shape conservation priorities or new scientific studies, inform law enforcement training or detection efforts, provide new standards for conservation education, or guide future conservation policies toward species used as elephant ivory substitutes, all benefiting wildlife in the long term.
The illegal ivory trade does more than threaten the survival of elephants. Elephants play an important role in their habitats by eating high numbers of seeds and dispersing them over long distances, knocking down trees as they browse, returning nutrients to the soil in their feces, and more. Elephants also promote plant diversity, increase habitat for grasses and grazing animals, and nourish their environment. As a result of this ecosystem engineering, elephants are considered keystone or flagship species. Declines in elephant populations due to the ivory trade mean fewer elephants to support healthy ecosystems and may drive declines of other wildlife.
Report wildlife crime to 1-844-FWS-TIPS (1-844-397-8477) or online at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Wildlife Crime Tips page.
No. It is not illegal to possess ivory if it was lawfully acquired. In 2016, a near-total ban on the commercial trade of African elephant ivory went into effect in the United States. However, the regulations do not restrict the personal possession of ivory. You can still legally own pieces of ivory, such as an heirloom carving passed down in your family or a vintage musical instrument with ivory components.
You may contribute items directly to the US Fish and Wildlife National Wildlife Property Repository anytime. Please visit this site and scroll to the “abandonments” section to learn more. Or contact the National Wildlife Property Repository at firstname.lastname@example.org or (303) 287-2224.
The Dallas Zoo is dedicated to 12 conservation priorities that can help humans and animals in signiﬁcant areas of Asia, Africa, and here at home in the United States. In this program, we partner with conservation organizations around the world to directly support eﬀorts to save animals and ecosystems from extinction. Learn more here.
Conservation is a top priority for AZA-accredited zoos and is a key component of their missions. As wild populations decline, AZA-accredited zoos play vital roles as stewards of part of the world’s heritage while supporting wild conservation programs. Learn more here.
Learn more about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Office of Law Enforcement, the International Affairs program, and the National Wildlife Property Repository online.