This is something I’ve wanted to address for some time, and as the old adage goes: “no time like the present”.
Animal lover? Me too. It’s fascinating to see animals I wouldn’t normally, however, I’m not prepared to go to a place that exploits them in the name of entertainment. There are many places worldwide that do this exact thing, and until people start boycotting, the subjects of this circus (I’m speaking figuratively as well as literally) will continue to suffer. Let’s start by highlighting the top 10 worst tourist attractions, and give more than a big thanks to World Animal Protection for the information. I think their infographic sums it up better than I can:
Image credit to World Animal Protection.
As a general rule, anything where an animal is performing an unnatural act (dancing bears, dolphin and whale shows) or is subjected to direct contact with people (especially tiger selfies, but also elephant riding, as their backs are curved in an arch instead of a dip, meaning the experience is painful for the animal) is a big no no. These animals are generally ripped from their mothers and families as youngsters, and chained and beaten into submission. Often, they experience many years of physical and mental abuse, with some eventually snapping and “running rampant”, something especially seen in Asian elephants in India, where there have been countless reports of Mahouts (handlers) killed by a stressed elephant that’s finally had enough. If they aren’t being forced to perform tricks for amusement using force, they’re being drugged and moved into poses so tourists can grin into a camera and have something to post on their Instagram later, a la tiger selfies. Worse still, some animals are mutilated to make them “safe” for humans to handle. This is particularly true of cobra shows, where the animals are often de-fanged to make them less dangerous. The problem with this is that the fangs and venom make up important parts of the digestive processes for the cobra; removing them makes eating painful and difficult for the animal. Imagine having all of your teeth ripped out against your will, and you not being able to eat solid food the rest of your life? I’m trying to not sound preachy, but I do want to convey the cold, hard facts.
So what can you do? Actually more than you think. The first would be to not support these places. Don’t visit, don’t pay money, and encourage everyone you know to do the same. Second, don’t inadvertently support. Trip Advisor sadly profits heavily from these types of attractions, so I would encourage you to stop using them for anything, and delete your profile if you have one. There’s also a petition you can sign to put pressure on them to rethink their position, you can view it here. Finally, donate to worthy causes that work hard to improve the lives of animals the world over. I’ve provided a list of links at the end of this article.
Please, be a good tourist.