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While airlines are banning big-game trophies, shipping companies are not

While many North American airliners — including Delta, American Airlines and Air Canada — announced Monday and Tuesday that they are banning the shipment of big-game trophies (United already had a ban in place), shipping giant UPS recently told The Washington Post it would continue the practice.

Although many airliners have banned the shipping of lion, elephant, leopard, rhinoceros and buffalo heads, UPS Public Relations Director Susan Rosenberg told the newspaper that the company would not be joining the ban. She said UPS avoids making judgements on the appropriateness of the contents being shipped, but makes sure that all shipments comply with the law.

FedEx, another international shipment company, does not ship deceased animals. However, a spokesperson for the company told The Washington Post that they, “may accept legitimate shipments of parts for taxidermy purposes if they meet our shipping guidelines.” He stressed however, that “these are legitimate shipments, not shipments that are illegally obtained. Our priority is to ensure we abide by laws and regulations for all shipments.”

New controversy over big-game trophy shipping arose following the illegal killing of Cecil, a beloved lion at Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. Trophy hunting is a pastime largely practiced by wealthy American tourists. A 2011 study by the International Fund for Animal Welfare found that of all the lions killed for sport in Africa, 60 percent are shipped to the U.S. as trophies. The practice is highly contentious. While some argue that legal big-game hunting actually contributes to conservation, others maintain that the benefits have been greatly exaggerated.

So far, none of the companies banning trophy shipments have given a reason for their ban, or taken an official position on big-game hunting.

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