Don’t Buy Exotic Animal Souvenirs


Travelling overseas is exciting for everyone. The majority of people’s first instinct when they arrive overseas is to sight-see, try out the traditional foods of that country and of course do some shopping. But does anyone know what they are actually buying? Every year millions of people bring in illegal and endangered animal products from overseas without even knowing. “In 2006, customs officers in the UK seized over 163,000 illegal wildlife items coming into the UK from both smugglers and returning holidaymakers.”

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) released a highly controversial advertisement “Don’t buy exotic animal souvenirs” created by a Polish advertisement agency, LOWE GKK, in 2008. This outrageous image features a woman carrying a suitcase, which is leaving a distinguished trail of blood behind. The graphic image aims to convey the message that people that are buying products that are made from exotic animals is posing a threat to nature and wildlife.

Interpreting this image in terms of denotation and connotation can be confusing. When I first glanced at this image the first thought that came to my head was “OMG is there a body in there?!?!” and then I thought “maybe she has an open can of paint that is leaking in her suitcase”. This image can give off different ideas if there was no caption at the bottom of the advertisement. After further investigating the image, I discovered the advertisement highlights the ongoing issue of killing endangered animals and then making products and souvenirs out of them such as clothing, jewellery and other valuable items.

The suitcase being the main part of the advertisement symbolises the slaughtering of endangered animals. Also, the positioning of the woman in the image, having her back turned, represents the woman being totally unaware of animal endangerment.

“You can help save nature by asking basic questions and getting the facts before you buy something. The best piece of advice I have for you is if you’re in doubt, don’t buy it.”

Souvenirs to avoid while travelling:

  • Animal skin, fur and feathers (made into clothing, handbags, hats, belts, shoes etc.)
  •  Marine life such as starfish, seahorses, coral, conch shells and shark teeth (made into mostly jewlerry and hair combs)
  • Turtle shells (made into jewellery, combs and sunglasses)
  • Traditional Asian medicines (made with rhino horns and tiger bones)
  • Elephant and hippo ivory
  • Shahtoosh “wool” which comes from the endangered Tibetan Chiru Antelope (made into shawls and scarves)

The aim of this image is to create awareness and encourage viewers to take action and help stand up and support this cause.

For further information and if you wish to show your support for WWF, click the following link and see several ways you can contribute to this ongoing issue:



“Don’t buy exotic animal souvenirs” by WWF.” : “Don’t buy exotic animal souvenirs” by WWF. N.p., 21 Sept. 2013. Web. 2 Apr. 2014. <;.

“Buyer Beware.” World Wildlife Fund, n.d. Web. 2 Apr. 2014. <;.

“Buying Exotic Animal Souvenirs: Consumer Ignorance or Disregard?.” Arte Bella  Portraiture Fine Art Photography Blog. N.p., 15 Apr. 2013. Web. 2 Apr. 2014. <;.

“Elements of Argument: Comp II.” : Analysis of an Advertisement. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Apr. 2014. <;.

Phakathi, Snethemba . “Controversial Ad Lab.” Don’t buy exotic animal souvenirsInternational…. N.p., 14 Apr. 2013. Web. 2 Apr. 2014. <;.

“Souvenirs to Avoid While Traveling.” Endangered Species. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Apr. 2014. <;.


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