The beautiful and extremely rare Tahitian lories that went on exhibit at the San Diego Zoo in May 1978 were the lucky survivors of a bird smuggling operation. When curator of birds Dr. Art Risser was approached by two men asking for aviculture contacts in Southern California, he wondered, but he offered them the names of two colleagues. The next day, he heard from his contacts that the men were trying to sell Tahitian lories for $7,000 a pair. U.S. Customs and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service did an investigation, captured and tried the smugglers, and confiscated the birds. The problem was, U.S. Department of Agriculture regulations required that all birds entering the country be properly quarantined, and these lories clearly had not. The rule was that they should be destroyed, but that would be a terrible shame with a species of this rarity. The Wild Animal Park was allowed to keep the birds until a decision could be made, and Park general curator Dr. James Dolan brought the situation to the attention of the American Association of Zoological Parks and Aquariums and bird experts. The media in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico carried the story for several weeks, and the public insisted that the birds be saved. In the end, the lories were allowed to go to London to be quarantined at the home of a lory expert, and could then legally re-enter the U.S. In the meantime, a second group of smuggled Tahitian lories from the same smuggling operation were also confiscated—but the precedent had been set that they did not have to be destroyed. They were quarantined in Honolulu, and then came to the San Diego Zoo on trust and were exhibited to appreciative visitors, who were amazed by their story and glad that these extraordinary birds made it through such an ordeal.