Animal cruelty, in popular tourist attractions around the World, has been in the spotlight recently. Unfortunately, to end cruel tourist attractions, might seem like an impossible job considering how juicy the business is. But that’s exactly why, if we all decide to say NO, we can end the practice for good.
Last week, in Thailand, a tourist was killed by the elephant he was about to ride. Obviously, I’m sorry for this poor man and his family. But this terrible event, brought some much needed light on the abuse of animals in the name of tourism, development and ‘experiences’ as the list of the “cruelest tourist attractions” by World Animal Protection made headlines in thousands of articles.
The list includes:
- Riding elephants
- Taking tiger selfies
- Hugging or walking with lions
- Visiting bear parks
- Holding sea turtles
- Performing dolphins
- Dancing monkeys
- Touring civet cat coffee plantations
- Charming snakes and kissing cobras
- Farming crocodiles
What this list would also include if a bit longer :
- Zoo, zoological parks, zoological gardens, animal park…
- Marine mammal parks, aquarium or oceanarium…
- Horse drawn carriages and especially in big cities (yes horses are originally wild animals)
- Any animal attraction where, during the same day, countless people can interact with the animal. Think pictures with camels in hotels, riding poneys at fairs…
If you want to understand why these attractions are cruel and how much the animals are abused in each and all of those attractions, you can read the information provided on World Animal Protection website for the top 10. I’m not going to give you details in this post, or I’ll probably spend the rest of my weekend crying.
What I want to discuss, here, with you, is what you can do to help end these cruel practices.
The simplest way to end Cruel Tourist attractions is to Say NO!
Elizabeth Hogan, U.S. Wildlife Campaign Manager at World Animal Protection said it best:
If you can ride, hug, or have a selfie with a wild animal, then you can be sure the attraction is cruel. Vote with your wallet and don’t go.
To this you can add: if you see a wild animal performing tricks on command or displaying unnatural behaviors, then you can also be sure the attraction is cruel.
And the very very simple way to make sure it becomes less and less popular is to say NO. Just don’t pay to ride those poor elephants, don’t give your money to people who abuse tigers or lions, don’t go to circus where animals are forced to perform tricks… It really is that simple. Say NO!
The less people will participate to these attractions, the less economically viable it will become for the people who currently benefit from animal abuse.
Other things you can do to end Cruel Tourist Attractions
Speak about it and spread the information
Most people are unaware of the abuse wild animals face behind the scenes of these popular attractions. So spreading the information on social media for example, is very important. The more people will know and understand, hopefully the less will be likely to participate to this business.
If you are a blogger, blog about it!
Again, spreading the information is key and if you are a blogger, you are unlikely qualified to spread the right message to your audience and beyond.
If you have participated in the past, to one of those tourist attractions (Unfortunately I know I have) don’t beat yourself up, now that you know better. Instead blog about it! “I rode an elephant in Thailand: Why I regret it!” “They made me visit a crocodile farm and I hated it”…
I recently read on Hand Luggage Only (a great blog, by the way!!) a sadly interesting post on snake charming. I don’t fancy snakes that much but I certainly don’t wish them this terrible fate.
If you are preparing your next trip: do your research and make the right choices
Check if your tour operator or travel agent has an animal welfare policy.
Ask ‘animal welfare conscious’ friends and family members about their experiences.
Read articles and blog posts about the place you intend to visit.
Choose to see wildlife in the wild, not in cages.
Be smart : support tourism that does not exploit animals
Where-ever you go in the World, there will always be alternative things to do, rather than participate to animal cruel tourist attractions.
Visits incredible museums, cities, churches, castles, temples…
Find local activities to try out: A flamenco class, a concert, a yoga demonstration, a local cooking class (as long as it doesn’t contain wildlife meat!)…
Go on a hike.
Choose to see wildlife in the wild not in cages.
Always be respectful when you travel, but remember that culture is not an excuse for cruelty.
The list is endless, and the point is that it is very easy to find things to do which are far more interesting than seeing a desperate animal displaying an abnormal behavior and probably starved to death or bitten or both.
So be smart, chose to do the right thing. Be mindful of animal welfare and support a better tourist industry. One that does not dwell on cruelty.
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