New Display at Sea-Tac Airport Aims to Educate Travelers About Wildlife Trafficking


Sea-Tac Airport is taking an extra step to promote wildlife safety to travelers.

With partnerships from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Wildlife Trafficking Alliance, Woodland Park Zoo, Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium and Northwest Trek Wildlife Park, Sea-Tac unveiled an education display Wednesday that encourages travelers to prevent wildlife trafficking. Jumbo Jet, a live radiated tortoise from Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, was on hand at the unveiling.

The display is in the S Concourse, which is the core of Sea-Tac's international flights departures.

According to a news release, information presented on the display includes examples of illegally trafficked materials as well as details about how wildlife trafficking has led to a decrease in certain species, like elephants, which are hunted for ivory.

The display serves as a way to urge travelers to be better at caring for global animal populations as well as following the law by making a commitment to be a "savvy traveler."

The display is on wall panels. It encourages travelers to be informed about wildlife trafficking and describes how to be a savvy traveler. A glass case also shows confiscated illegally trafficked items and tests travelers if they can spot trafficked items.

Alan Varsik, director of Point Zoo & Aquarium and Northwest Trek Wildlife Park, spoke at a news conference at the airport.

"When we care about wildlife, we take action to protect it not only for today but for future generations," Varsik said.

Port of Seattle Commissioner Fred Felleman said travelers also might not know the impact they have on animal species simply by what they eat or buy.

"Travelers care deeply about the places they choose to visit but are sometimes unaware of the inadvertent impacts of their actions and how they can be avoided," Felleman said.

Woodland Park Zoo President and CEO Alejandro Grajal pointed out travelers can enable wildlife trafficking without knowing it.

"Wildlife trafficking isn't just about smuggling animals across borders. It can be inadvertent and subtle, and we can all contribute to the solution by thinking about what we purchase, eat and photograph," Grajal said.

The display serves as a pilot project for AZA Wildlife Trafficking Alliance and made its debut in time for summer travel and the opening of Sea-Tac's new International Arrivals Facility. The alliance intends to install similar displays at other airports.