Taking Action Against Illegal Wildlife Trade

Unprecedented global demand for exotic wildlife products results in indescribable suffering for animals caught in the trade, including the demise of endangered species. An illegal multibillion-dollar industry, wildlife trafficking benefits criminal networks and corrupt governments alike—all at the expense of innocent animals. It must end. And you can help.

Together, we can tackle the challenge head on.

Understand the Challenges

Explore Solutions

Oakland Zoo Takes Action

You Can Take Action Too

The battle is challenging.

Illegal wildlife trade is the fourth most lucrative trade globally, closely following guns, drugs, and human trafficking. Hundreds of millions of plants and animals are captured each year, then transported for trade on the black market. This tragedy isn't happening only on the other side of the world. In fact, the majority of illegal wildlife trade passes through US ports, and is driven by US-based consumer demand.

What drives the trade?

  • Bushmeat procured from poached mammals and reptiles

  • Medicines derived from traditional practices

  • Status items and clothing made from endangered species

  • Exotic pet ownership and/or exploitation for fee-based selfies

What's the fallout?

  • Animal suffering and death

  • Extinction of species and ecosystem impact

  • Relocated species may impact the well being of local wildlife

  • Incidental entrapment and death of nontargeted species

How are people impacted?

  • Spread of zoonotic disease to humans and animals

  • Loss of wildlife from native habitats curtails tourism, reducing income

  • Poachers are tied to criminal, terrorist, and corrupt organizations, compromising security throughout the targeted regions

The fight is underway.

Many brave men and women work hard to stop poaching by patrolling areas and removing snares. These rangers are working tirelessly, even during the COVID-19 pandemic, to ensure the safety of the animals they are protecting. The work is life threatening—in the last ten years alone, more than 1,000 rangers have been killed while protecting animals from trade.

Ranger feeds orphaned baby elephant at the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust conservation center in Nairobi, Kenya.

Reduce consumption.

Conversationists are curtailing demand by informing consumers about the impact of their choices, offering sustainable alternatives, and changing cultural views and public behaviors.

Close the supply chain.

The fight to reduce procurement from natural habitats continues daily—from removing traps and thwarting poachers. Pushing for and achieving legislative changes that ensure poachers are charged aggressively, discourages participation in the trade.

Rehabilitate and release.

Animals rescued from illegal trade need rehabilitation before they can be returned to the wild. Those that have become domesticated need long-term care and forever homes.

See how Oakland Zoo is taking action.

From conservation fund raising—through zoo ticket sales, membership fees, and events—to rescued animal rehabilitation and care, Oakland Zoo is dedicated to wildlife protection around the world. In April 2021, we opened The Illegal Wildlife Trade Center, an interactive exhibit designed to educate the public, and garner support for the organizations who fight every day to end this atrocious practice.

Upcoming Eco Trip (2022): Wings Over Kenya

Engage the community.

  • We conduct eco trips that bring hands, funds, and supplies to our global conservation partners in the field.

  • Zoo staff, docents, volunteers, Teen Wild Guides, and programs educate the community about conservation issues and opportunities.

  • We partner with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the Wildlife Trade Alliance, and AZA-accredited facilities to combat human and animal health risks exacerbated by illegal wildlife trade.

Rescued Amazon macaws at Oakland Zoo

Provide rehabilitation and care.

  • When wildlife is confiscated at local airports, seaports, and borders, law enforcement calls Oakland Zoo to care for it.

  • Originally victims of the illegal pet trade industry, our Fennec foxes, Aldabra tortoises, and Amazon macaws were rehabilitated at Oakland Zoo.

  • When we receive animals for rehabilitation, that we cannot accommodate longterm, we work with other accredited facilities to find forever homes.

See how you can take action and save lives.

Three easy ways to pledge your support.

Pry before you buy.

Choose artisan items that support communities that live near wildlife sustainably.

Vet before you pet.

Before you take a photo or click to share wildlife content, consider how an animal's wellbeing may be affected either locally or in the wild.

Know before you go.

Be informed when you travel.

Count me in


Post on social media that you took the pledge and encourage others to join you.

#oaklandzoo #endthetrade


Join Oakland Zoo staff members on an eco-trip and make an impact.


Support legislation that combats illegal wildlife trade.


Join Wildlife Trafficking Alliance (WTA) and show your support for reducing the purchase and sale of illegal wildlife and wildlife products.


Volunteer with our partners, ARCAS or BSBCC, and make a difference.


Contact CalTip if you spot illegal poaching.




During your next visit to Oakland Zoo, put a token or change in the Quarters for Conservation kiosk and support wildlife conservation.


Leverage resources such as this WTA Guide, to learn more.

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