How To Decorate With Illegal Animal Products

by SUSANNAH LONG · May 26, 2010

    Always wanted some swag lovingly crafted from exotic animal parts? Now's your chance, the WSJ reports. Your country needs you to buy ostrich-leather boots and Cape Buffalo heads, and your life needs the pizazz that only smuggled merchandise can create.

    [Photo courtesy of the WSJ]

    The National Wildlife Property Repository in Commerce City, Colorado, is full to the gills and in need of cash. The warehouse staff is auctioning off approximately 300,000 imports confiscated at customs because of rules governing the transport of animal products. Typically, the more valuable contraband items end up in educational institutions, but now the NWPR has a rolling online auction that will continue through the summer. Python boots, cobra boots, lizard-skin accessories, kangaroo-hide shoes, great big tiger heads, and walrus penises (penii?) can all be yours!

    Fauxidermy no more! [photo via apartmenttherapy]

    Are you tired of that fauxidermy that all the hipsters like? Want to include animal skins and giblets because they were all over the Spring runway? Start your new life as a big game hunter now.

    You could lovingly display it in neat rows . . .

    [Photo courtesy of the WSJ] [Photo courtesy of InStyle]

    Just like Mariah Carey does!

    Or you could take your taxidermied beasts and mix them with some modern details that scream, "I'm trying too hard!"

    [Photo courtesy of the WSJ] [photo courtesy of NYT]

    . . . just like action movie director Roland Emmerich does.

    You might want to display medicinal wine containing pickled snakes in the same way that you would those bottles of flavored olive oil that you see at The Olive Garden . . .

    [Photo courtesy of the WSJ]

    . . . but that's impossible, because medicinal contraband (along with "ho-hum" items) is destroyed. Still! There's lots and lots to buy, even though buyers have already snapped up some of the best stuff - "a dozen fur coats made from Siberian weasel sold for $4,450," and a big lot of salamander keychains is now with its new owner. You can even be brave and go for the fur, feather, leather, and mother-of-pearl items that even even the wildlife experts don't understand. There are, for example, many mystifying tchotchkes available: "They've got big hats," warehouse supervisor Bernadette Atencio says helplessly, when asked to describe a set of clay gnomes decorated with python skin. "They're bizarre."

    Not everyone is as psyched about the auction as we are. Peta, for example, is pissed. PETA would like the agency to donate all the contraband to PETA. Then PETA would pour fake blood all over it and make some informational displays. Others are criticizing the Fish and Wildlife Bureau for selling goods originally confiscated for violating import laws, but the bureau counters that the auction strategy is better than simply burning the excess contraband. They are totally right. When you confiscate cocaine, you should just sell the cocaine instead of discarding it.

    To be fair, despite the cash shortage, the FWB will offer no items containing endangered species parts for sale . . . which means that you won't be able to cinch your Calvin Klein with that Margay belt (Margay head still attached in place of the buckle).

    This is a margay . . . And this is the heart of someone who wants to wear a margay-head belt.

    (ps: Goods that Supervisor Atencio deems "degrading" are also out, so the smiling caiman ashtray at the top of the page isn't for sale.)