Tourism is one of the world’s largest industries with a global economic contribution of almost 7.6 trillion U.S dollars. This booming industry is driven by the desire to explore and learn about new cultures. In every country, tourist attractions are constantly being refreshed and marketed as the best way to immerse yourself in the countries culture.
Part of the tourism industry are wildlife attractions, which contribute 20 – 40% of all tourism worldwide with two to four million tourists contributing to these excursions each year. Unfortunately, 80% of tourists who visit wildlife attractions each year are blind to the fact that these attractions are having a terrible effect on animals.
National Geographic recently released an article that sheds light onto the issue and guides tourists on how to ensure that the excursions they are planning are not cruel to animals. The article can be found here.
We have put together our top 5 cruelest tourist attractions in an effort to raise awareness.
Elephant trekking in South East Asia
Elephants are loosing the poaching war in Africa and are fighting an uphill battle in South East Asia due to one of the most popular wildlife attractions – riding elephants. There are reports popping up too frequently about elephants collapsing from exhaustion who have been forced to work in the tourist industry to give ‘holiday-goers’ a ride.
Elephants that are destined for the tourist industry go through ‘The Crush Process’; a process that involves taking babies away from their mothers and chaining and beating them in an effort to crush their spirits to make them submissive. Elephants are incredibly intelligent and emotional animals and this process of beating and terrorizing them completely breaks them.
Interested in learning more? Check out this article by The Dodo https://www.thedodo.com/elephant-rides-trek-1132645600.html
Taking tiger selfies
Places like The Tiger Temple in Bangkok or The Tiger Kingdom in Chang Mai and Phuket gives tourists an opportunity to get up close and personal with tigers to get that ultimate selfie or photo. What is hidden from these tourists is how unnatural it is for these tigers to be completely submissive, one quick picture for you means a lifetime of suffering for that animal.
A two year investigation done by the Care for the Wild International revealed disturbing animal abuse including drugging of the animals, chaining the animals so they can’t properly stand up, splashing water in their face to wake them up after they’ve drugged them and clipping tendons in their wrists so they are unable to swat or run.
Is an awesome Facebook or Instagram photo really worth the pain these animals suffer?
Circuses incorporating animals
Several animals including bears, elephants and tigers are forced into these performance roles where they are expected to ride bicycles, stand on their heads, balance on balls or jump through rings of fire; none of which are natural.
There are no government agencies monitoring the treatment of these animals which leads to cruel training techniques and constant confinement. This intense and unfair imprisonment can lead to these animals lashing out and getting the blame for hurting their trainers and civilians.
About a year ago, there was an incident in Hawaii where an elephant attacked its trainer and got loose from the circus. As you can imagine it did not end well for the elephant. Watch the story here.
When deciding to go to the circus, do your research to ensure there is no animal cruelty. For a list of animal –free circuses click here.
Not all zoo’s are bad, and in some cases zoo’s are crucial to ensuring the survival of a species and responsible for important research. There are a few zoo’s in the US including Smithsonian’s National Zoo and the San Diego Zoo who are doing their part for animal conservation through research and also reintroducing species back into the wild.
Unfortunately, not all zoo’s are humane. Many zoo’s crowd animals and keep them in enclosures that are too small for them to be comfortable. Keeping animals in these close quarters causes them to go insane and act unnatural. There have been several videos that have gone viral demonstrating this behavior:
Large lion attacks toddler through glass: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pesvNdDtRQQ
9 Animals Driven Insane:
Performing marine life
With the release of the documentary Blackfish, there has been lots of light shed on aquariums that capture marine life and train them to be performers. Recently there has been a small victory with SeaWorld announcing that they are no longer going to breed orcas through artificial insemination, but this is still not enough.
Many other marine life is still held captive including dolphins who spend their lives in a small swimming pool – completely unnatural compared to their natural open sea environment. Tourists who also want their photo with a dolphin kissing them do not understand the torment and severe living conditions these dolphins are put under.
Travelling can be an enriching and wonderful experience however it is important that you do your research before embarking on a wildlife excursion.