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The Florida Museum of Natural History has been given a collection of rare and illegally imported Amazonian artifacts from Brazil that it plans to add to its collection and use in developing a national traveling exhibition. The more than 200 items in the collection include ceremonial masks, earrings, necklaces and headdresses, musical instruments, blow guns and darts, bows and arrows, spears and baskets. The Florida Museum will display some of the most valuable and attractive items Wednesday morning.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005, 10:30 a.m

Florida Museum of Natural History, Powell Hall, located in the University of Florida Cultural Plaza near the intersection of Southwest 34th Street and Hull Road.

Many of the artifacts are made with materials from endangered species, including parrots, macaws, jaguars, peccaries and monkeys. The artifacts were smuggled into the United States and sold in violation of CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, and the U.S. Lacey Act. The international investigation into the smuggling ring began in 1997 and the guilty individuals were later indicted and sentenced in U.S. Federal Court in Gainesville.

University of Florida anthropologist and archaeologist Michael Heckenberger is considered a world expert on Amazonian material culture, and will be available Wednesday to speak with members of the media along with Florida Museum Director Douglas Jones. For more information on CITES, see

Contact: Paul Ramey, (352) 846-2000,