Around the World Places

Illegal Snare Traps Turned into Animal Sculptures on Display at Detroit Zoo

Exhibition highlights unique conservation initiative working to eliminate poaching

One-of-a-kind sculptures made from illegal snare traps that threaten wildlife in East Africa will be on display in the Detroit Zoo’s Wildlife Interpretive Gallery beginning May 8. This special exhibition, called Snares to Wares: Capacity for Change, is comprised of works of art created by artisans in Uganda who live near a national park at which wildlife poaching is a serious problem.


The Snares to Wares Initiative was created by students and conservationists at Michigan State University to provide alternative sources of income for local residents in northern Uganda who may otherwise turn to poaching wildlife to provide for their families. In poverty-stricken towns with scarce resources, steel wires found in discarded vehicle tires are often used to create illegal traps to capture wildlife – many of which are endangered – as a food source.

Through the Initiative, these illegal and inhumane snare traps are removed from national parks to keep wildlife from being poached. The wire from these traps is used to create sculptures of the animals typically caught in snares, including lions, giraffes and elephants. The works of art are then sold, providing much-needed income for the artists. The sculptures are for sale at Zoofari Market at the Detroit Zoo for the benefit of the Snares to Wares Initiative.

“Snares to Wares exemplifies what can happen when people have a way to provide for themselves that is good for their families and good for wildlife,” said Scott Carter, Detroit Zoological Society (DZS) chief life sciences officer. “The initiative has created an alternative to poaching as a source of income that is helping wildlife and people in Uganda, and is a model for communities around the world.”

Snares to Wares: Capacity for Change will be on display through March 2020 and includes a life-size lion sculpture commissioned by the DZS.

The Detroit Zoological Society – a renowned leader in humane education, wildlife conservation, animal welfare and environmental sustainability – operates the Detroit Zoo and Belle Isle Nature Center.  With an annual regional economic impact of more than $167 million, the Detroit Zoo in Royal Oak is one of Michigan’s largest paid family attractions, hosting more than 1.3 million visitors annually.  Its 125 acres of award-winning naturalistic habitats are home to 2,400 animals representing 235 species.  The Belle Isle Nature Center sits on a 5-acre site surrounded by undisturbed forested wetlands on Belle Isle State Park in Detroit.  It provides year-round educational, recreational and environmental conservation opportunities for the community.  For hours, prices, directions and other information, call (248) 541-5717 or visit detroitzoo.org.

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