nashville toss the tusk

To help protect elephants, Nashville Zoo will be hosting an ivory surrender event on Saturday, Oct. 19 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. to encourage public participation in the fight to save this species and others from wildlife trafficking.

Toss the Tusk is a public service program whose goal is to raise public awareness about wildlife trafficking. It will provide Nashville Zoo guests with an actionable way to combat illegal wildlife trade with a focus on elephant poaching. State Representative Jason Powell and a representative from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Agency will be present for the event.

“One elephant is killed approximately every twenty-five minutes to fuel an unprecedented global demand for ivory products,” said David Oehler, Nashville Zoo Vice President. “Wildlife trafficking is decimating many endangered species around the world due to highly sophisticated illegal trade operations in many countries. Giving the public information and a way to turn in these products without repercussion is key to the long-term survival of these endangered species.”

The United States is one of the largest markets for these products, which means that demand from American consumers has a tremendous influence on whether elephants will become extinct within our lifetime.

‘Toss the Tusk’ gives the public a safe, direct opportunity to take a stand for elephants and be part of this global movement to stop the killing, stop the trafficking and stop the demand. By surrendering ivory and ensuring it will never hold value in the market, the public can send a strong signal to the world that elephants are worth more alive.

There will be a tent and table set up at our Entry Village to accept any illegal trade items, which would include elephant ivory, rhino horn, tortoise shell, furs, etc. All items will be handed over to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Agency for them to use for educational purposes or destroy, ensuring they will never enter the consumer market.

This is a safe, no-questions-asked drop area, meaning no one turning in ivory will suffer any consequences for having owned these items.

Nationwide ivory surrender events are being organized by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA)/Wildlife Trafficking Alliance (WTA), with support from the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), long-standing leaders in conservation.

“AZA’s Wildlife Trafficking Alliance is honored to partner with leading conservation organizations and AZA-accredited facilities on these important public events,” said Dan Ashe, President and CEO of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums. “Because demand for ivory products is driving elephants to extinction, consumers hold the key to ending the scourge of wildlife trafficking. By putting our actions in line with our values, we can work together to protect these treasured species for the benefit of our planet, our security and future generations.”

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