Be a compassionate traveler
There are simple, practical steps you can take on vacation to prevent animals suffering
What to avoid
Animal cruelty can be a by-product of tourism. Animal circuses, zoos, bullfights and ‘swim with dolphin’ programs are all examples of animal exploitation in the name of entertainment. Before you travel, ask if your tour operator has a policy on animal protection – and encourage them to introduce one if they don’t. Once you’re away, help to protect animals by following these practical tips:
- Wild animals belong in the wild. If you do want to see animals when you travel, observe them in their natural habitat by joining eco-friendly tours such as whale-watching tours.
- Culture isn’t an excuse for cruelty. Avoid cockfights, bullfights and any festivals or celebrations that cause suffering to animals.
- Stay away from local cuisine made from wild or endangered animals, such as the endangered green sea turtle which is served in burgers in the Cayman Islands. Also avoid foods that involve inhumane production, such as bushmeat.
- Think carefully about visiting zoos. Many keep animals in poor conditions and allow tourist to handle animals – which causes unnecessary stress. Zoos that are serious about conservation should have humane breeding programmes, designed to release animals into the wild
- Avoid riding or paying to have your photo taken with a wild animal. These animals are often captured from the wild, with adult animals sometimes killed in the process. It’s also common for these animals to be treated poorly, cruelly trained, and have their teeth removed or even be drugged to prevent tourists from being harmed.
- Stay away from attractions involving captive marine mammals like whales and dolphins – these are unnatural and stressful for the animals. Learn more about the impact captivity has on these beautiful creatures.
- Avoid souvenirs made from wild animals, including all fur, ivory, shells, seahorses, teeth, rhino horn and turtle shell products.
By following these simple tips, you are helping to move the world to protect animals and keeping wild animals where they belong – in the wild.
Standards of animal care at tourist attractions vary greatly, but you can take action to prevent animals suffering
What you can do
If you see an animal being treated cruelly, make a note of the date, time and location, and of the type and number of animals involved. Photos and videos provide powerful evidence, but avoid paying to take them.
It’s vital to make a complaint locally, so report what you’ve seen to:
- Local tourist offices
- Local police
- Local animal welfare organizations
- Your tour operator
- The zoo or aquarium (if that’s where abuse is taking place)
- The national zoo association (if you have serious concerns)
And when you return home, contact the country’s embassy, local politicians, or the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (if that’s relevant to your complaint). The more noise you make, the more likely it is that you’ll make a direct contribution to preventing animal cruelty.