As a tourist holidaying to a foreign destination, we seek new sights and experiences to enhance our travels. Many travel operators provide opportunities to ride, play and pet exotic animal and watch them perform in shows. It is important to remember that such experiences are generally exploitative and can have an incredibly harmful impact on the animal.
Animal Cruelty & Tourism: The Silent Victims
Guest Post by Danae Kopanidis
The Silent Victims of Animal Tourism
Trekking through the dense jungles of Asia on the back of an elephant may be on your bucket list, but these highly intelligent, family-oriented animals are deprived of the complex social networks and sensory stimulation that they would have in the wild and are exploited for profit. Numerous animals including tigers, bears, monkeys and sea mammals join the long list of animals being exploited for tourism.
With desolate enclosures, little stimulation, and torturous -bordering on criminal – training methods, thousands of animals suffer immensely at the hands of their trainers. In captivity, wild animals have inherent natural behaviours that aren’t conducive to living in a barren concrete cell. Tourists being mauled by tigers and trampled by elephants are commonly flooding the media, bringing to light how necessary it is to stop cruel animal tourism.
Seeing a wild animal in their natural habitat can be a magnificent experience and there are ethical avenues to facilitate this. Knowledge is power, and with a quick browse online you can equip yourself with the right information about ethical programs available at your next destination. Visiting the right places won’t only keep your conscience at ease; it will help animals achieve a greater level of freedom and quality of life by driving down unethical tourism.
Cruelty Masquerading as Culture
Running with the bulls in Pamplona, the Gadhimai “slaughter” festival in Nepal, the Tlacotalpan bull torture festival in Mexico and the Yulin dog meat festival in Guangxi are all promoted as global “cultural” events. Tourists flock to these events, excusing their inherent cruelty with notions of ‘culture’ and ‘tradition’. Cultural heritage and tradition are important aspects of a nation’s identity, however, consciously participating in activities that promote animal torture is simply unacceptable. It is time to end torture masquerading as culture.
In today’s progressive society, we find human torture unacceptable and abhorrent when instigated in the name of rituals and tradition. So why is animal torture acceptable? The detriments of animal misery and suffering aren’t outweighed by any perceived positives promoted by animal festival promoters and cultural tradition.
Recognising Animal Cruelty
Horse drawn carriages, donkey rides, dolphin swims and tiger-petting are often perceived as harmless tourist attractions, however, most of these animals are deprived of their basic needs, and often are beaten and/or tortured into submission. Working long hours, with inadequate access to water and food; these animals live a monotonous and cruel existence merely to satisfy humanity’s desire for entertainment.
The Ethical Tourist Guide
For a comprehensive list of animal activities to avoid, click here.
>Don’t take selfies with performing animals
>If you witness animal cruelty, report it to local authorities or animal welfare groups and write a review on Trip Advisor- let others know what’s going on. Or contact My Green World here.
>Do your research. Before donating or supporting an organisation, make sure that you are fully aware where your money is going.
>Don’t buy or consume products that contain exotic animal products – you may inadvertently be encouraging or supporting wildlife trafficking networks. Read our article on the environmental impacts of meat here.
>Opt to support local conservation efforts by visiting animals in their natural habitats.
>Get involved- Sanctuaries and rehabilitation centres offer volunteer programs. Click here for more information on ethical volunteer programs, or click here to read about voluntourism and canned hunting.
>If you plan on visiting a zoo or aquarium, make sure it adheres to the ‘World Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ code of ethics. However, we would urge you to read our article, ‘The Truth About Zoos’ before visiting a zoo or aquarium.
>Boycott any festival, event or activity that involves animals being harmed, stressed, exploited or sacrificed.
How You Can Help:
>Visit our list of approved partner charities.
>Right Tourism provides information and advice for worldwide responsible, informed, guilt-free and humane tourism.
>Join the fight against bullfighting here.
>The petition on the ‘End Yulin Festival’ website has over 200,000 signatures. Through petitioning and bringing to light this horrifying ‘festival’, its size is decreasing each year. Sign your name here.
>Sign up for My Green World’s newsletter here.
>Download our charity-backed mobile game app World of the Wild and become a virtual wildlife hero, here.