Since the earliest days of the air cargo industry, the transport of animals has evolved right along with the precious-but-nonliving goods secured in the cargo holds. In most of the issues of Air Transportation magazine, which later became today’s Air Cargo World, there is at least one mention of an exotic animal hitching a ride, whether it’s for food production – like the baby chicks in this 1953 ad (below, left) for Douglas Aircraft Co. – high-value racehorses being shipped to international equine shows or endangered species being moved between zoos for conservation efforts.
In a regular photo essay called “The Animal Corner,” Air Transportation provided a showcase of the various cuddly creatures and growling beasts that were ferried through the air in the previous month – sort of a precursor to our monthly UpFront section. This Animal Corner essay from February 1954 (above right) shows a couple of bear cubs being sent via Northwest Orient from South Korea to a Washington, D.C., zoo; some British pigs destined for a breeding program in Belgrade by way of Sabena Belgian Airlines; a pygmy hippopotamus from Libera enjoying a food stop in New York’s Idlewild Airport on her way via Swissair to a zoon in Boston; and an image of Henry Bush, a pilot for Linea Aeropostal Venezolana, showing off a “tigrito” and a marmoset that he caught in the Amazon jungle as a personal hobby.
Today, with biodiversity threatened all around the world, there are few people like Capt. Bush who can so cavalierly capture wild animals for personal collections. Animal trafficking is tightly controlled by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) that ensure the animals have room to move around, abundant water and food, temperature controls, and access to veterinary treatment along the way.
In April of this year, IATA further strengthened these controls by releasing its long-awaited CEIV-Live Animals certification program for the safest-possible handling of this precious and adorable airfreight. Like the organization’s CEIV-Pharma cert, CEIV-Live Animals aims to bring more transparency to the shipment of flora and fauna, plus a quality benchmark that can be seen as a worldwide standard. For more information, visit IATA’s CEIV-Live Animals page.