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Embrace Compassionate Tourism: Visit Animals Responsibly

Dear Friend,

As you know, this year’s World Animal Day theme is “Great or Small, Love them All”. This newsletter provides tips on how to avoid exploitative animal attractions and support tourism that helps animals and encourages a better quality of life.

Too often, animals are used as a tourist attraction and money-maker. No care goes into how to look after the animals and what might be best for them, so they are left chained up, improperly fed, and passed around strangers for pictures.

We want to highlight that there are other options out there to spend time in nature with animals and not contribute to funding these inhumane operations.

Fortunately, lots of travel companies such as booking.com, Airbnb, trip advisor and The Travel Corporation have removed captive entertainment from any excursion booking and ticket sales. However, some of these sites still use imagery of animal tourism and, therefore, continue to promote these activities.

Many tourism companies are still seriously failing wildlife. We need to take matters into our own hands and actively research our holiday plans to make sure we are making ethical bookings. To help with this, we have put together this short guide:

What to be wary of:

  • Any “attraction” that uses baby animals and allows you to hold or stroke them. These animals are poorly looked after, sometimes drugged to be passive and often malnourished and beaten.
  • Any “sanctuary” that keeps animals in a cage unlike their natural habitat or a small and bare space. A real sanctuary would keep the animal in as natural a habitat as possible. Healthy animals should have minimal interaction with staff and no interaction with visitors whatsoever.
  • Any activities where you can ride or swim with animals. The animals are forced to do this, and it can be very painful or stress-inducing for them.
  • Any shows where animals are used for performing. This is often a form of punishment for the animals.
  • Any place you can take a picture with an animal at a cost. Animals in these situations are being used purely for profit and it is likely the animal is not well cared for. If they are an infant, then it is likely they have been taken from their mother too early and will not develop correctly.

What are good signs:

  • Sanctuaries that do not sell pictures with animals or sell any other “experiences” with the animals. These sanctuaries may take a donation upon entering, but this is normally a small fee and will not be specifically attached to the animals.
  • Sanctuaries do not breed animals. They will be very transparent about where all of the animals have come from and will be knowledgeable regarding the animals’ needs.
  • The habitats should be appropriate for the animals. They should be large enough for the number of animals living there.
  • There should be no visitor interaction. You should not be allowed to touch or hold the animals at all.
  • Their physical and social needs should be considered. Animals should be in a large, enriching environment with others of their species (if the animal is social) and have good access to food and water.

Use this link to see if a sanctuary is accredited:

To learn more about where you can go on holiday without contributing to any harm on animals or wildlife, follow the link below to the World Animal Protection website to view their list of wildlife-friendly travel companies:

We encourage you to visit these websites before booking holiday entertainment to make sure you don’t contribute to the issues in animal tourism.

We hope this guide has been informative on how you can ethically visit these incredible animals.

Together, we can make a difference in the lives of animals great and small.

Best wishes,

World Animal Day HQ

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