Photo: Curtis Foreman
THE FIRST-EVER GLOBAL STUDY on the scale of welfare and conservation of wildlife tourism was just commissioned by World Animal Protection and carried out by the University of Oxford’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU). You’re not going to be very happy about what they found.
They came back reporting that three out of four wildlife tourist attractions involve some form of animal abuse or conservation concerns. They also found that at least 550,000 wild animals are currently suffering because of irresponsible tourist attractions worldwide and that approximately 110 million people visit these attractions each year, keeping them very much in business.
Here’s the top 10 worst attractions you can support:
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
Most tourists are unaware of the abuses that are occurring. Upon analysis of 50,000 TripAdvisor reviews of the attractions involved, 80 percent of visitors left positive reviews for venues with horrid animal welfare.
With no international regulation concerning how wild animals are used in tourism, the big challenge is to transform the tourism industry from within so it can be part of the solution to end wildlife cruelty, suggests World Animal Protection. A start — they’ve so far secured commitment from 87 travel companies to stop selling elephant rides and shows.
Until regulations are put in place, regulate yourself. If you can ride it, hug it or force it to take a picture with you, then you can probably put it in the wild animal cruelty category.