New York, February 3, 2016: A groundbreaking study has found that three out of four wildlife tourist attractions involve some form of animal abuse or conservation concerns, as revealed by World Animal Protection.
World Animal Protection believes at least 550,000 wild animals are suffering at the hands of irresponsible tourist attractions around the world. This evidence comes from the first-ever global research into the scale of welfare and conservation of wildlife tourism by University of Oxford’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU) and commissioned by World Animal Protection.
Using the WildCRU research ratings and our own research and investigations in Asia and Africa, World Animal Protection has compiled a list of the ten cruelest wildlife entertainment activities across the world:
- Riding elephants
- Taking tiger selfies
- Walking with lions
- Visiting bear parks
- Holding sea turtles
- Performing dolphins
- Dancing monkeys
- Touring civet cat coffee plantations
- Charming snakes and kissing cobras
- Farming crocodiles
As tourism continues to grow, the organization estimates that approximately 110 million people visit cruel wildlife tourist attractions each year, unaware of the animal abuse involved.
These welfare abuses include very young animals being taken from their mothers and beaten and harmed during training to ensure they are passive enough to give rides, perform tricks, or pose for vacation ‘selfies’ with tourists, with the worst venues including bear, elephant and tiger parks and a turtle farm.
WildCRU’s academic review includes analysis of TripAdvisor, the largest online tourist review site, 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.
Elizabeth Hogan, U.S. Wildlife Campaign Manager at World Animal Protection, said: “It’s clear that thousands of tourists are visiting wildlife attractions, unaware of the abuse wild animals face behind the scenes. As well as the cruelty to animals, there is also the very real danger to tourists, as we saw earlier this week with the very sad death of tourist Gareth Crowe in Thailand.”
“We need to stop the demand for elephant rides and shows, as well as hugs and selfies with tigers and lions, by exposing the hidden suffering behind wildlife attractions,” said Hogan. “If you can ride, hug, or have a selfie with a wild animal, then you can be sure the attraction is cruel. Vote with your wallet and don’t go.”
With no global regulation regarding how wild animals are used in tourism, the big challenge is to transform the tourism industry so it is part of the solution to end cruelty to wildlife.
World Animal Protection has so far secured commitments from 87 travel companies to stop selling elephant rides and shows.