The industry is thought to be worth over $10 billion per year, with smugglers able to charge exorbitant prices for exotic animals. Many of the creatures die in transit, further reducing the numbers of what are frequently endangered animals.
This photo is of a bird smuggler captured by U.S. Customs officials!
But while this is one of the more serious environmental problems, the animal smugglers themselves can often be great for a laugh. Though an unfortunately large amount of animal smugglers are never caught, the ones who do get themselves deservedly arrested generally manage to do so in some spectacularly funny ways.
“I have monkeys in my pants”
Those immortal words were spoken by Robert Cusack in 2004 after one of the more spectacular busts in smuggling history. Cusack only mentioned the baby animals in his trousers after he was fairly sure his cover was blown. Customs officials were tipped off to the fact he was smuggling animals after several of his cargo escaped his suitcase in Los Angeles. It probably didn’t help that the escaped cargo was four birds of paradise, one of the most colourful rainforest animals in the world, which then flew around above the heads of customs officials. Further questioning revealed the cleverly concealed primates, as well as illegally imported orchids in his luggage. His travelling partner was later arrested for importing leopards in his backpack, although his partner proved himself the brains of the operation by not letting the leopards loose in front of authorities. The monkeys are now thriving at a local zoo, although the birds, sadly, died after their ordeal.