A parrot preserved in a jar of ethanol, a crocodile head ashtray and a stuffed mongoose in the grip of a hungry snake are just some of the items seized during raids and searches by UK customs officers.
The haul, which is currently in storage at the state-of-the-art Leeds Discovery Centre, will be revealed in an exclusive museum Twitter tour next week.
The collection , which is on long-term loan from HM Revenue and Customs, also includes a selection of ivory carvings, turtle shells and rare butterflies.
The items were taken from their owners as they breached laws around importing or keeping exotic species or animal products.
Today they are used to teach visitors to the centre about animal welfare.
Rebecca Machin, Leeds Museums and Galleries’ curator of natural sciences, said: “This is an extraordinary collection of objects and it paints a very vivid picture of the incredible array of items that people try to bring into the UK.
“Whilst some of those people actively try to smuggle objects into the country, many others don’t realise they could also be breaking the law when they return from holiday with turtle shells , carved ivory products or items made from animal skins.
“Buying these sort of tourist souvenirs encourages the exploitation of rare animals and can worsen the already precarious plight of endangered species worldwide, so the hope is that buy showcasing this collection, we can raise awareness of just how important it is that holidaymakers don’t support that industry.”
Councillor Brian Selby, Leeds City Council’s lead member for museums and galleries, added:“This is a colourful and exciting collection of objects which I’m sure will generate a lot of enthusiasm and interest on social media.”