By Claire Pugel, Development Intern
In 2011, a stamp was unveiled by the United States Postal Service (USPS) making tigers the new face of snail mail. Congress created the Save Vanishing Species Semipostal Stamp, commonly referred to as the “Tiger Stamp." Used exactly like any other first-class postage, the stamp costs just 10 cents more, and provides benefits to wildlife that are priceless.
Since the stamps went on the market in 2011, 49 million have been sold, contributing $5.4 million to international conservation efforts in 35 countries. By keeping the first class value of every stamp sold and just enough of the proceeds to cover the cost of the stamp’s development, printing, and marketing, the USPS assures that the Tiger Stamp comes at no additional cost to taxpayers! The remaining funds are then allocated to the Multinational Species Conservation Funds (MSCF), a group of five programs created by Congress that work to save some breathtaking species, including elephants, rhinos, tigers, great apes and sea turtles. The Tiger Stamp proceeds have also funded 95 other projects including the training of dogs to track and capture elephant poachers in the Virunga National Park in Africa, reintroducing endangered orangutans to the island of Borneo in Indonesia and training special operations teams to protect tigers in India.
Unfortunately, by the end of 2018 the USPS elected to discontinue selling the stamps. With about 50 million printed stamps still in stock, people saw an issue with this. Two bills, S. 652 and H.R. 1446, were introduced to the Senate and House of Representatives by Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Tom Udall (D-NM) and Reps. William Lacy Clay (D-MO) and Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE). These bills called for the USPS to continue selling the Tiger Stamp until all copies are gone.
In May, two of our Akron Zoo employees, Sandi Phillips, grant writer, and Vince Jeffries. director of marketing and public relations, traveled to the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington D.C. for the chance to speak to our representatives about this issue. Phillips and Jeffries met with Reps. David Joyce (R-OH) and Tim Ryan (D-OH), and Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) on a successful mission to help gain support for acts S. 652 and H.R. 1446.
While the stamps are not being sold currently in post offices, there are still ways that you can support this cause! The World Wildlife Fund created an easy way to send a letter to your government representatives on their website. Join the 265,550 supporters to get those tiger stripes back on our stamps, and be sure to look out for the Akron Zoo’s own Sumatran tigers, returning Summer 2020 in our new area, Wild Asia!