Fighting illegal trade and accessing expertise to care for confiscated animals

Updated on 12 January 2021

For use of the media only;
not an official document.

WAZA signs a cooperation agreement with CITES today in Geneva

Geneva, 20 December 2011 – Today, the Secretary-General of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and the Executive Director of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to facilitate access to expertise for the care of confiscated live animals, the provision of training and raising public awareness in the implementation of CITES, as part of the UN International Decade of Biodiversity.

Mr John E. Scanlon, CITES Secretary-General and
Dr Gerald Dick, Executive Director of WAZA

Commenting on the agreement, the CITES Secretary-General, Mr John E. Scanlon, said: "Our collaboration with the WAZA network will assist CITES Parties in meeting their obligations to care for confiscated animals and in the transport of live animals, which will be supported through enhanced training and capacity building opportunities."

“Illegal trade in animals is increasing and belongs, together with illegal drug traffic, to the most alarming illegal businesses. WAZA and its members are committed to assist CITES in implementing animal trade regulations and ensuring the conservation of species affected by trade”, says Dr Gerald Dick, Executive Director of WAZA.

The main purpose of the collaboration is to facilitate the use of the expertise available in the WAZA network to assist CITES Parties in implementing the Convention, and to support the activities of the CITES Secretariat for the benefit of the conservation and sustainable use of species of wild fauna and flora. Major fields of cooperation include: care and placement of confiscated live animals; gathering information about current wildlife trade issues; transport of live animals; research and science, with a focus on Appendix-I species; communication and awareness; training; and capacity building. Appendix I includes species threatened with extinction that are or may be affected by trade, and CITES prohibits international trade therein (except for non-commercial purposes, such as scientific research).

As a recent incident in Cologne, Germany, showed, cooperation between zoos and conservation and Customs authorities is of utmost importance. The German Customs seized an illegal shipment of 570 exotic animals coming from Hong Kong SAR. The animals were concealed in suitcases and boxes and included two critically endangered reptiles, the Indochinese box turtle and the Burmese star tortoise, as well as sand boas, geckos, newts and invertebrates. Their care was entrusted to Cologne Zoo, a WAZA member. This example illustrates how WAZA members can assist CITES Parties with their expertise in and facilities for keeping confiscated wild animals.

Cooperation between CITES and WAZA will also help guarantee the safe transport of wild animals between countries, whether it be for commercial trade, breeding, research or conservation purposes.

Background information on WAZA

The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) is a global organization that harmonizes the principles, policies, practices and strategies of over 1,300 leading zoos and aquariums. WAZA is the unifying representative of the global zoo and aquarium community and works in partnership with governments, IUCN, and non-government organizations to ensure the application of high standards of animal welfare and achieve conservation in zoos and aquariums (ex situ) as well as in the wild (in situ).

For more information, visit

WAZA facts and figures

With more than 700 million visitors a year, the world’s 1,300 leading zoos and aquariums have a unique potential to attract, inspire and mobilize mass public engagement for species and habitat conservation. By making a direct connection between people and wildlife, zoos and aquariums educate the public on biodiversity conservation, human well-being, livelihoods and poverty alleviation, hence promoting environmentally sustainable development as well as social and political change. The income from entrance tickets to zoos and aquariums is spent on conservation projects around the world. Collectively, this financial support can match or surpass the contributions of some of the leading global conservation organizations.

Background information on CITES

CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is an international agreement with 175 member States. Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants is legal, sustainable and traceable, and does not put their survival at risk.

Because the trade in wild animals and plants crosses borders between countries, the effort to regulate it requires international cooperation to safeguard certain species from over-exploitation. CITES was conceived in the spirit of such cooperation. Today, it accords varying degrees of protection to about 35,000 species of animals and plants, whether they are traded as live specimens, fur coats or dried herbs.

For more information, visit

Note to editors: For more information, contact:

Carole Lecointre- WAZA Communication, +41 22 999 07 93 or [email protected]


Laurent Gauthier, CITES Secretariat, +41 22 917 81 63 or [email protected]



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