You may have seen various posts on Instagram or Facebook (or any other social media) of people riding elephants, posing with lions, stroking tigers…the list goes on and on. Everyone loves to have photographs that show what a great time they are having while travelling – but make sure that your adventure doesn’t do harm to nature by considering the animals welfare. Here are some figures to help illustrate what we are talking about:
Wild animal tourism in numbers
Number of elephants in captivity worldwide – a quarter of the total number on the planet
of captive adult elephants used for tourism entertainment have been taken directly from the wild
Number of captive tigers in the US alone. In the wild there are just 3,200
Estimated number of bottlenose dolphins being used for entertainment worldwide
Number of visitors to SeaWorld San Diego in 2012
Approximate number of lions kept and bred in captivity in South Africa – double the number of those in the wild or natural reserves
Source: World Animal Protection
If you are visiting somewhere like Thailand you will find that the options to ride an elephant and have your photograph taken with a tiger are numerous. However, the elephants that are used for this are often chained by the feet, and tamed into submission by being beaten. The tigers and lions that you can have your photograph taken with are doped – there is no reason a dangerous animal would want to be stroked by a human, so re-consider that Instagram shot. If it seems too good to be true – it probably is.
We unfollow anyone who posts photographs of animal cruelty on social media immediately, but it is shocking to see the amount of people who have beautiful travel accounts and then post a photograph of smiling faces and a display of animal cruelty. It is easy to avoid this – do research and find places that take care of animals properly. If you are unsure about anything you are planning, if can help to look at websites such as this one: https://www.worldanimalprotection.org.uk/
You can make a difference on your travels – by being aware.