Orlando, Florida, Sept. 15, 2014 – The following statement was issued today by Wildlife Conservation Society President and CEO Cristián Samper from the 2014 AZA Annual Conference:

“We applaud the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), in partnership with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), for launching a global design challenge on how to use the ivory from the U.S. ivory crush.

“The six-ton U.S. ivory crush in November sparked ivory destruction events by nations across the globe. Following the U.S. crush, such nations as China, France, Belgium, Hong Kong, Chad and Vietnam, joined efforts in sending a clear message that as long as ivory is bought and sold, elephants have no chance for survival.

“This design challenge shows the continuing leadership of the USFWS and AZA in efforts to address the elephant crisis.

“At WCS, we will harness the power of our four zoos and aquarium and the 96 Elephants Campaign to spread the word about this design challenge. Our zoos and aquarium, including our flagship Bronx Zoo, bring in more than 4 million visitors each year and we reach millions more with our communications channels. We know we have a strong role to play to galvanize a movement in efforts to save elephants and other threatened species.

“Further, we applaud all AZA institutions involved in these efforts. We are 224 institutions reaching 180 million visitors each year. We are an instant movement to help save elephants and all threatened species.”

Background on Crush and Design Challenge:

In November 2013, the USFWS destroyed some six tons of elephant ivory – all seized as a result of law enforcement investigations and at U.S. ports of entry – to send a clear message that the United States will not tolerate ivory trafficking and the devastating impact it is having on elephant populations, particularly in Africa.

The design challenge invites interested members of the public from the United States and other countries, including students, aspiring artists, conservationists, advertising agencies and design professionals, to submit design ideas for the use of the crushed ivory as a public awareness and educational tool. A panel of conservation, design and marketing experts will review all entries that meet the competition requirements, and select a winner. The winning design will both incorporate the crushed ivory and create a compelling, thought-provoking and informative tool to raise awareness and educate the public about the illegal elephant ivory trade and thereby help reduce demand for ivory products. The winning entry will be produced and replicated for use in public spaces such as zoos, aquariums, airports, schools and other public facilities, as appropriate, across the United States. The final design will also be available for replication by other countries that have crushed their ivory stockpiles and want to send a similar message or stand as an example for countries wishing to hold their own design challenge.

To learn more:


MARY DIXON: (1-347-840-1242; mdixon@wcs.org)
STEPHEN SAUTNER: (1-718-220-3682; ssautner@wcs.org)