Wildlife Confiscations Network

The Association of Zoos and Aquariums, San Diego Zoo Global, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service organized a summit in August 2019 with forty key stakeholders from over twenty organizations and government agencies to discuss this issue. The summit led to the establishment of the Southern California Wildlife Confiscations Network (“the Network”).



Wildlife trafficking has increased dramatically over the past decade, and several U.S. and state government agencies are on the front lines addressing these illegal activities in the Southern California region. Successful wildlife law enforcement often involves the seizure, confiscation and subsequent holding of a diverse array of wild animals and plants (wildlife), notably at U.S. ports of entry or exit, which comes with a unique set of challenges. Due to the increasing number of confiscations, and the complexities involved in caring for the live wildlife that are the victims of the illegal trade, it is important that effective and coordinated management approaches assure the ongoing conservation of threatened species, and the welfare of individual animals and plants, as well as maintaining evidentiary value for on-going criminal investigations.

About the Network


Many facilities that are accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) already work closely with U.S. government agencies, particularly those located near major ports of entry or exit of trafficked wildlife. Several non-governmental organizations (NGOs), universities, botanical gardens, and certified facilities of the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS) are key partners in assuring high standards of management of confiscated wildlife. The “Southern California” region includes the following counties: San Diego, Los Angeles, San Luis Obispo, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, Santa Barbara, and Imperial.

During 2015–2019, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service had 834 cases of live wildlife that was refused clearance and seized or abandoned, which included 48,793 individual live specimens that required care and placement. This number averages to 14 new cases per month and 27 live specimens per day. Find out more about these seizures in our latest report.


Strategic Priorities

During the August 2019 summit, three strategic priorities were identified: (1) establish a process to provide better support for law enforcement, including species identification, medical triage, and both short and long-term holding for confiscated wildlife; (2) increased public awareness and education on the wildlife trafficking issue; (3) improve the nationwide regulatory system to close state loopholes, increased penalties for offenders, and provide greater funding for wildlife trafficking enforcement and holding/disposal.

Network Participants—By Organization

  • Aquarium of the Pacific
  • Association of Zoos and Aquariums
  • Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography
  • California Department of Fish & Wildlife
  • California Science Center
  • California State University Long Beach
  • International Fund for Animal Welfare
  • International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
  • Lincoln Park Zoo
  • Lions, Tigers and Bears
  • Los Angeles Zoo & Botanical Gardens
  • National Marine Mammal Foundation
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
  • San Diego Botanical Garden
  • San Diego Zoo Global
  • Santa Barbara Zoo
  • SeaWorld San Diego
  • STAR Eco Station
  • Tennessee Aquarium
  • The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens
  • Turtle Conservancy—Ojai
  • Turtle Survival Alliance
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife (USFWS)
  • ZAHP Fusion Center
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