Cruelty, confinement, neglect and abuse means millions of animals worldwide pay a heavy price for tourist entertainment – many even pay with their lives. Tourist activities that involve the mistreatment of animals exist for one reason: tourists choose to support them.
By making animal-friendly choices on your next trip you’ll become a Compassionate Traveller, and you’ll be helping to end the exploitation of animals for tourism around the world.
So keep in mind the following points when deciding what to do on your travels:
Many zoos and marine parks keep animals in poor conditions with their basic needs denied.
Not only do animals pay for souvenirs with their lives, but strict laws in Australia and New Zealand prohibit bringing animal products into the country.
Posing for a photo with a wild animal is far from a happy snap. Many of these animals have been taken from the wild and are commonly drugged to control behaviour.
Animal performances place enormous stress on animals and can involve violent training techniques. It’s unnatural and demeaning for a wild animal to have to ‘perform’ for the sake of entertainment.
Beware of animal rides. Many animals are poorly fed and given no shelter from the elements or access to water. Some are drugged or beaten to ensure they remain submissive.
Exotic meat is often a recipe for torture and the result of an excruciating death.
Animals used for bloodsport and certain fiestas and religious festivals are subjected to torment and fear and are often killed inhumanely.
Reporting animal cruelty is a vital part of Compassionate Travel. Make your report to the local police, tourist office, animal welfare society or your tour operator and include the date, time, location, type and number of animals involved. If possible, record what you have seen on film as photographs and video footage are invaluable evidence - but never pay to take them.
Compassionate Travel in action
Holidaymakers to Greece and Turkey played a major role in WSPA’s successful campaign to end the dancing bear trade in these countries in the 1990s, simply by practicing animal-friendly travel. These tourists became Compassionate Travellers by not supporting dancing bears and reporting what they saw to tour operators and local governments.
Dancing bears live out their days dragged from town to town by a rope or a chain, dancing primarily for tourist entertainment. The bears are taken from the wild as cubs and have a hole pierced through their lips, nose or palate and a chain or rope attached. Pulling on the rope causes the bears intense pain and this is used make them ‘dance’.
The dancing bears of Greece and Turkey now live in forest sanctuaries built by WSPA.
Many holidaymakers are surprised to find that their holiday souvenir is actually illegal. Bags and other accessories made from reptile skins; hair combs and other products made from turtle or tortoise shell (pictured); and even some sea shells are not permitted to be brought into Australia. Heavy fines and imprisonment can be imposed on travellers bringing these types of holiday mementos home.