Thursday, 4 February 2016

Animal Friendly Traveling | Avoiding Animal Cruelty as a Tourist

I originally wanted to discuss some of the places in the tourist world that abuse animals for entertainment, but then I decided that it would be far more productive to talk about ways to avoid tourist destinations that abuse animals for profit.

photo from
Throughout the world there are many organisations that abuse animals for profit. In the West SeaWorld is probably the most infamous. Yet over the last month or so I've noticed more criticism for global tourist attractions filtering through social media, predominantly Tiger Temple in Thailand. Both of these places take animals from the wild at very young ages and place them into captivate. SeaWorld force Orcas and Dolphins to swim for humans and do shows. Where as Tiger Temple drug the tigers and encourage tourists to sit on them and take selfies.

For some of the most majestic animals on the planet this isn't the nicest way to live, just for 5 minutes of entertainment.

So given that quite grim and preachy intro, here are some of my tips for being a more conscientious tourist:

Research: No one wants to do research, which is why you're reading this blog. However, research on specific places can benefit you a lot. Sadly it does mean that you'll miss out on a lot of tourist attractions, but I'm sure the animals will appreciate it. I spend a lot of time wishing I'd visited places before I became aware.

ConservationsWild life conservation and nature reserves are great ways to see animals without harming them. Here you can interact with animals from the wild without contributing to their captivity. In most places your fare or donation will help the animals recuperate before being returned to the wild, happier and healthier. But beware, many animals here have been hurt in some way so may not be the prettiest. 
Scuba Diving in Koh Tao 2014

Visit their habitat: I became a PADI certified diver in 2011 (my open water course) and I've never looked back. Seeing sea animals in their own world is a completely different experience. The majestic nature of animals is amazing and I think this is definitely the best way to do it. 

Raise Awareness: Say you've decided to go somewhere that you've done research and everything seems ligit, but something seems off. If you notice the carers carrying weapons and behaving like guards, or animals being uncharacteristically docile, tell someone. Most people suggest telling the manager but I think they're probably aware, I think you should take to social media, report what you've seen exactly as you see it. It'll make more people aware than ever just complaining to someone who probably doesn't care.

If you have any other tips let me know in the comments!