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Imports of the Weird: Chicken Skeletons?

Published: 20 May 2015 01:05:39 PST logoToday's entry originally appeared at

As you may have noticed from the FAQ for new PIERS subscribers, we've become fans of finding strange facts in our processed U.S. customs data. Today, we pass along an unusual entry from our partner publication,

The latest weird import: Chicken Skeletons

Baltimore U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials have intercepted seven shipments of uncertified chicken skeletons from China.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, China is considered to have present highly pathogenic avian influenza, and as a result, the skeletons may pose a potential threat to the U.S. poultry industry.

The skeletons arrived by sea starting with one shipment of six boxes on July 5, which included 10 skeletons in boxes and 20 skeletons with chicks in display cases. The latest shipment of one box arrived on Aug. 3, consisting of 12 skeletons.

Chicken skeleton from Port of Baltimore


Baltimore CBP’s agriculture specialists issued an emergency action notification to the Manassas, Va., importer, requiring that the seven cases of chicken skeletons be re-exported or destroyed.

“The chicken skeletons appear to be intended for display or educational purposes; however, federal law requires an import and health certificate for most animal products imported into the United States due to the potential threat of foreign animal diseases that could threaten U.S. agriculture and our economy,” said Susan Thomas, acting Customs port director for the Port of Baltimore, in a written statement.

Some of the skeletons were packaged inside display cases and were shipped with other research and educational products, such as microscopes, test tubes and thermometers, as well as skeletons of other animals, such as fish, turtles, rats, snakes and bats.

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