Press release

TripAdvisor profiting from the world’s cruellest animal attractions

25/04/2016

TripAdvisor is promoting and profiting from some of the world’s cruellest wildlife tourist attractions reveals global charity, World Animal Protection.

World Animal Protection estimates that at least 550,000 wild animals are suffering at the hands of irresponsible wildlife tourist attractions around the world, many of which are promoted and sold via TripAdvisor, to its 300 million visitors each month.

Tourists who are buying tickets to ride elephants, handle sea turtles, watch dolphin performances and take lion and tiger ‘selfies’, via the world’s largest travel site are usually unaware of the abuse and suffering the animals experience in these venues.

Despite World Animal Protection making numerous attempts to work with the company, TripAdvisor has failed to take any action, despite previously stating that they would “help travellers gain a better understanding of animal welfare and conservation practices."

The animals at these venues are often taken from their mothers when young, beaten, endure ongoing physical and psychological abuse during training to make them submissive enough to give rides, perform tricks or pose for holiday ‘selfies’ with tourists. They are then chained or kept in barren cages for the rest of their lives, a far cry from the freedom of their natural habitats.

TripAdvisor states that the listings on its website do not represent any form of endorsement by the travel site, instead providing a platform for travellers to share their positive or negative opinions. Yet, contrary to its claim of ‘impartiality’, TripAdvisor ranks and rewards cruel venues through their Popularity Index and Certificate of Excellence programme, boosting their website presence and reinforcing their popularity with potential travellers.

World Animal Protection proposed to TripAdvisor the following changes:

  1. Stop sales of tickets to cruel wildlife attractions, such as those sold via subsidiary company Viator
  2. Stop cruel attractions from receiving a Certificate of Excellence
  3. Stop cruel attractions from being ranked in their Popularity Index
  4. Introduce a WildlifeLeaders programme based on their existing GreenLeaders programme, helping users to make informed choices and encouraging businesses to implement better welfare and conservation standards for animals.

Julie Middelkoop, Global Head of the Wildlife - Not Entertainers Campaign at World Animal Protections says:

“TripAdvisor is hugely influential and has a critical role to play in helping to end the cruel abuse of wild animals in tourism.  We know people want to see wild animals, but they need to be aware of the suffering that goes on behind the scenes and make better, animal friendly, choices. TripAdvisor has an important role to play in educating tourists and highlighting animal friendly venues, where wild animal can roam free and there is no direct contact between tourists and animals.

“Eight out of ten tourists leave positive reviews for cruel wildlife attractions on TripAdvisor because they don’t see the abuse. It’s time TripAdvisor started educating tourists on wildlife friendly venues, similar to the way it promotes eco-friendly accommodations through their GreenLeaders programme.”

The charity is asking the public to get behind them by signing the petition [hyperlink] to demand TripAdvisor act responsibly and stop profiting from cruelty.

ENDS

Note to editors

  • For an interview with a spokesperson, contact Kai Akram kaiakram@worldanimalprotection.org +44 (0) 7939 029 006 or Bev Boyle bevboyle@worldanimalprotection.org +44 (0) 7239 0563 / +44 (0) 7968 415 856
  • Link to a previous statement by Trip Advisor to Australian Broadcasting Corporation news outlet "We believe it is important to ensure all attractions a traveller could visit are listed on the site so that they can share their personal experiences," a TripAdvisor spokesman said.
  • "We are open to finding ways in which we can help travellers gain a better understanding of animal welfare and conservation practices," the spokesman said.
  • TripAdvisor Inc acquired Viator, the global leader in online bookings for attractions, to the TripAdvisor network of sites in 2014
  • Research into wildlife tourism by University of Oxford’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU) included analysis of TripAdvisor, to better understand the awareness levels of tourists visiting these wildlife venues. Of the 50,000 reviews, it revealed that 80% of people left positive reviews for venues with poor animal welfare
  • As tourism continues to grow, we estimate that approximately 110 million people visit cruel wildlife tourist attractions each year, unaware of the animal abuse involved.
  • Using the WildCRU research ratings and our own research and investigations in Asia and Africa, World Animal Protection has compiled a list of ten of the world’s cruellest wildlife attractions:
  1. Riding elephants
  2. Taking tiger selfies
  3. Walking with lions
  4. Visiting bear parks
  5. Holding sea turtles
  6. Performing dolphins
  7. Dancing monkeys
  8. Touring civet cat coffee plantations
  9. Charming snakes and kissing cobras
  10. Farming crocodiles
  • World Animal Protection is building a global movement to put wildlife protection on the global agenda and reduce the tourist demand for cruel animal entertainment attractions. Find out more via this link.