It's time to stop profiting from wildlife cruelty in tourism.
As a leader in the travel industry, you know that traveler expectations change and businesses must adapt. Over 200,000 people have already called on TripAdvisor to stop profiting from and promoting cruelty to wildlife for the sake of tourism entertainment. They haven't taken action to help these animals yet. Will you beat them to it?
Last year the University of Oxford reviewed188 wildlife venues featured on TripAdvisor and found that 75% of the different types of attractions involve wildlife cruelty. TripAdvisor’s Viator sells tickets for a number of these exact types of attractions. We have approached TripAdvisor but to date have been reluctant to work with us and are failing to take action to protect wild animals.
Instead of profiting from cruelty, we want TripAdvisor to celebrate wildlife tourist experiences that benefit the lives of wild animals, such as genuine sanctuaries and responsible wildlife watching experiences. TripAdvisor already award their GreenLeaders stamp of approval to eco-friendly accommodations. We propose they do the same for positive wildlife venues by rewarding them with the title WildlifeLeaders, helping tourists to make informed decisions so we can end the cycle of wildlife abuse.
Over 100 travel companies have already committed to ending the sale and promotion of venues that offer elephant entertainment, such as rides and shows. Among these companies are TUI Benelux, Contiki, World Expeditions and Intrepid Travel.
The world’s cruellest attractions
In order to make elephants submit to elephant rides and other human interactions, they are taken from their mothers when babies and forced through a horrific training process known as ‘the crush’. It involves physical restraints, inflicting severe pain and withholding food and water. By the time tourist come to ride an elephant, it may look at peace, but this is because it’s spirit has been broken. The bullhook used permanently reminds the animal of human dominance.
The cruelty does not end after the crush. When not performing or used for rides most elephants are kept on chains, unable to socially interact with one another. This is hugely damaging to their physical and psychological wellbeing.
Taking tiger selfies
Tiger cubs are separated from their mothers at an early age so they can be used as photo props for hours on end. They are handled and hugged by tourists and typically kept chained or in small cages with concrete floors.
In Thailand we found 10 venues housing around 614 tigers. Although Thailand is a hub of cruel tiger tourism it is also prevalent in other parts of Asia, Australia, Mexico and Argentina.
Walking with lions
Lion cubs are bred and taken from their mothers typically within a month of birth to supply the growing lion tourism industry, mostly located in Southern Africa. Tourists handle the cubs for hours and pose with them for photos. They are also often told to hit the cubs if they display aggressive or unwelcome behaviour.
When the cubs grow too big for tourists to pick up and hug – but are still young enough to control – they are used for the relatively new walking with lions tourist experience. The lions are trained to ‘safely’ walk with tourists, sometimes on leads.
These lions face a lifetime in captivity as they cannot be released into the wild.
Holding sea turtles
The world’s last remaining sea turtle farm that acts as a tourist attraction is in The Cayman Islands. Here, tourists can hold turtles and even eat them during their visit.
Suffering from stress and disease, sea turtles live a tortured life at the Cayman Turtle Farm. They often panic when they are handled and it has been known for tourists to drop them, causing significant injuries which can kill turtles.
Millions of tourists visit dolphinaria, but they are unaware of the cruelty and abuses the dolphins endure to perform in shows.
Whilst it is banned in countries like the US, many performing dolphins around the world are still captured in the wild. They are often chased by high-speed boats before being hauled on board or caught in nets. For many, the stress is too much to take and they die during transportation to their intended destinations.
Whether wild caught or captive bred, dolphins in dolphinaria face a lifetime of suffering. They spend their entire lives in a space not much bigger than a swimming pool – completely unnatural and restrictive compared to their natural open sea environment.
These are only five of the ten world’s cruellest attractions that we revealed in our Checking out of Cruelty report. Many other wild animals face lifetimes of suffering at tourist entertainment venues all over the world. Monkeys are forced to dance, civets are caged and force fed to sell coffee to tourists and intensive crocodile farms are now becoming a tourist attraction.
We know that TripAdvisor is profiting from at least 8 of the 10 cruellest types of tourist attractions in the world, and promoting all of them. Read our report to find out more.