Chances are that if you’ve walked through the big yellow departure gate of Brisbane International Airport, you have passed this inconspicuous glass cabinet. Upon closer inspection, the contents inside are not what you’d typically see in an airport terminal, such as a taxidermized mongoose in mid-fight with a cobra. This display is comprised entirely of illegal animal products seized by border security at customs. They now serve as a reminder to travelers not to engage in animal trading while abroad.
These items represent a fraction of one of the most lucrative criminal industries in the world. Australia is a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which restricts the trade of endangered species. Such items are confiscated when discovered and come with a hefty fine or even prison time.
Not only is this trade bad for the species on the brink of extinction, but bringing foreign species into the country can seriously endanger the native flora and fauna, damaging the delicate Australian ecosystem.
However, these items are often brought back by unassuming tourists who thought they purchased an exotic souvenir. The exhibit forces all travelers to consider their purchases and decisions when abroad.
Know Before You Go
The exhibit is under the departure gate on the left side as you enter the Brisbane International Airport, just before you take the escalator down to customs. If you are picking someone up in arrivals and have a few spare minutes, just take the lift up to the departure gate on the top floor if you want to take a quick look.