The Academy’s mammalogy department recently acquired a mounted tiger specimen that was confiscated by officials at San Francisco’s SFO airport. Tigers are listed as endangered species under the Federal Endangered Species Act, and are also protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna (CITES).
When U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials confiscate an animal skin or other such material that has crossed the border illegally, they contact institutions like the Academy that maintain research collections. This particular tiger is not well-suited for exhibit display, so it will remain in collections storage, as part of the Academy’s library of life (below, left). These research collections are of great value to the scientific community; they document the diversity and evolution of life on our planet, helping us understand how to sustain it.
On occasion, a confiscated specimen can become part of an educational exhibit seen by thousands of people every day. That’s exactly what happened when officials confiscated a mounted leopard during the Academy’s rebuilding project – they called the Academy and we were able to incorporate it into African Hall, where it now sits perched in a tree above the double-wide open diorama (below, right).