A look inside the government-owned house of horrors

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A Look Inside The Government-Owned House Of Horrors


Taxidermied polar bears, seahorse key chains, and a tiger fetus.

Thus begins the tour of the National Wildlife Property Repository outside of Denver, Colorado. It's an innocuous name for the warehouse with the nation's most grotesque collection of illegally obtained animals and animal objects.

The animals, in whole or in part, have all been confiscated after attempted importation into the United States. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service oversees the 22,000 square foot facility which is located near an abandoned airport.

The items are either stored, destroyed or donated to scientific, educational, and conservation organizations.

See more from inside the warehouse:

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National Wildlife Property Repository
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A look inside the government-owned house of horrors
Bernadette Hilbourn, supervisor of the National Wildlife Property Repository, holds up one of several full-grown, mounted leopard cats from India that was confiscated on the way into the United States and now sits in the warehouse on what was the Rocky Mountain Arsenal in the northeast Denver suburb of Commerce City, Colo., in this photograph taken on Thursday, April 23, 1998. The repository, which is the only one in the country, stores items from animals that are endangered or simply because the importer did not have the correct papers to bring the goods into the country. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
A row of confiscated preserved armadillos sits on a shelf in the National Wildlife Property Repository in the northeast Denver suburb of Commerce City, Colo., Thursday, April 23, 1998. The armadillos are just one of thousands of items stored at the repository, which acts as a storehouse for dead animals and animal parts seized at the nation's borders for lack of proper paperwork or because of status as endangered species. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
COMMERCE CITY, COLORADO--JUNE 24, 2005--Bernadette Atencio , administrator of the National Eagle and Wildlife Property Repository in Commerce City. Wildlife Repository Specialist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, displays a variety of seized wildlife parts and skins that are confiscated all over the nation and brought to the repository at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal to be stored, destroyed, or (as in the case of all these items) used for educational purposes. Some of the materials, such as the snake skin boots in the foreground, were attempted to be smuggled illegally by disguising them with a suede cover. The stuffed polar bear was donated by a collector. Other items include a dwarf crocodile skin purse, right, and an iguana skin belt, foreground. (GLENN ASAKAWA/THE DENVER POST) (Photo By Glenn Asakawa/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
COMMERCE CITY, COLORADO--JUNE 24, 2005--Bernadette Atencio , administrator of the National Eagle and Wildlife Property Repository in Commerce City. Wildlife Repository Specialist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, stands next to a confiscated rhinoceros head that is part of a collection of seized wildlife parts, skins, clothing, artwork, curios and jewelry that are confiscated all over the nation and brought to the repository at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal to be stored, destroyed, or used for educational purposes. Atencio did not know where or how the rhino head found it's way to the repository but that it's been used for educational purposes for at least 10 years. (GLENN ASAKAWA/THE DENVER POST) (Photo By Glenn Asakawa/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
Purses made of cobra skin are shown inside the National Wildlife Property Repository in Commerce City, Colo., where they wait to be auctioned online over the next several months on Thursday, March 4, 2010. The auction is being conducted to clear out some of the backlog of items collecting in the repository, which is the only one like it in the country. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Boots made of reticulated python sit on long shelves inside the National Wildlife Property Repository in Commerce City, Colo., where they wait to be auctioned online over the next several months on Thursday, March 4, 2010. The auction is being conducted to clear out some of the backlog of items collecting in the repository, which is the only one like it in the country. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Carved ivory tusk are piled high on a pallet at the the National Wildlife Property Repository at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refugenear Commerce City, Colo., on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013. The item is part over 6-tons of ivory tusk and carvings worth millions of dollars that will be crushed at the facility on Thursday. The items were seized from smugglers, traders and tourists at U.S. ports of entry after a global ban on the ivory trade went into effect in 1989. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)
Edward Grace, a wildlife enforcement agent, holds piece of a carved ivory at the the National Wildlife Property Repository at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge near Commerce City, Colo., on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013. The item is part over 6-tons of ivory tusk and carvings worth millions of dollars that will be crushed at the facility on Thursday. The items were seized from smugglers, traders and tourists at U.S. ports of entry after a global ban on the ivory trade went into effect in 1989. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)
Edward Grace, a wildlife enforcement agent, holds a carved ivory tusk at the the National Wildlife Property Repository at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge near Commerce City, Colo., on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013. The tusk is part over 6-tons of ivory tusk and carvings worth millions of dollars that will be crushed at the facility on Thursday. The items were seized from smugglers, traders and tourists at U.S. ports of entry after a global ban on the ivory trade went into effect in 1989. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officers watch over confiscated ivory prepared for crushing at the National Wildlife Property Repository, at Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, in Commerce City, Colo., Thursday Nov. 14, 2013. The six tons of banned elephant ivory destroyed was accumulated over the past 25 years, and was seized during undercover investigations of organized smuggling operations or confiscated at the U.S. border. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
Confiscated decorative ivory is piled together in preparation to be destroyed during an event at the National Wildlife Property Repository, at Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, in Commerce City, Colo., Thursday Nov. 14, 2013. Six tons of banned elephant ivory was destroyed Thursday after being accumulated over the past 25 years, seized during undercover investigations of organized smuggling operations or confiscated at the U.S. border. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
COMMERCE CITY, COLORADO--JUNE 24, 2005--Shelves full of snakeskin boots at the National Eagle and Wildlife Property Repository in Commerce City are collected with a variety of other seized wildlife parts, skins, jewelry, artwork and curios that are confiscated all over the nation and brought to the repository at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal to be stored, destroyed, or used for educational purposes. (GLENN ASAKAWA/THE DENVER POST) (Photo By Glenn Asakawa/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
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The warehouse contains the remains of over 1.5 million animals and receives new items every day; casualties of the multibillion dollar trade in illegal wildlife -- which has been termed an "international crisis" by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, a large percentage of the trade is initiated by Asian buyers who pay upwards of $30,000 per pound of rhino horn which are used in medicines and to signify newfound wealth and status.

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