If you stop and look around you should be able to find an exhibit case at many airports filled with some of the items the US Fish & Wildlife Service has confiscated from travelers.
(Confiscated wildlife products, JFK. Courtesy US Fish & Wildlife Service)
Sadly, smuggling endangered species – and items made from the parts of endangered species – is big business. Wildlife inspectors around the country are kept on their toes inspecting cargo shipments and suitcases for everything from bags of writhing snakes to dried sea horses and mounted sea turtles. And, according to this AP article, Bizarre Finds Normal for Airport Inspectors, last year the inspectors at the airport in Anchorage, Alaska made more seizures than JFK airport in New York.
There’s the case of the women who tried to hide a bear gall in her bra cup; the sad tale of the live monkey shipped with snakes, and the chronic sea horse importer. Every time Chris Andrews opens a package or inspects a passenger in his job as a U.S. Fish and Wildlife inspection officer at Anchorage’s Ted Stevens International Airport, he chances an even more bizarre find…… He says that some of the saddest cases he’s seen involve live animals shipped as cargo, including a monkey in a cage shipped with taped-up snakes. The snakes got loose and killed the monkey.”
Sad, yes; but really sort of fascinating. The article goes on to mention snake wine, elephant toenails, and jars of bear fat. I’m not even sure I want to know what these items might be used for, but it’s intriguing to read about how crafty some of these smugglers get with their contraband.
And, speaking of crafty. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) now has those nifty Step ’n Wash units in 72 public restrooms at the airport.
These Step ‘n Wash units are self-retracting steps that are secured beneath restroom sink counters to make it easier for kids to reach the faucets and wash their hands.