Animal friendly tourism

Help make sure that your actions on holiday don’t support animal suffering.

Compassionate travel

Animal cruelty can be a by-product of tourism. Animal circuses, zoos, bullfights and ‘swim with dolphin’ programmes are all examples of animal exploitation in the name of entertainment.

You can avoid contributing to animal suffering on holiday by remembering our easy tips:

Before you go

While you are away

  • Don’t accept culture as an excuse for cruelty: Cockfights, bullfights and the use of animals in religious or other festivals can all be considered part of a local culture.

  • Don’t try local cuisine if it includes wild animals: Avoid food items that include endangered animals, or involve inhumane production, such as bushmeat. Avoid drinking civet coffee, which may have been produced by civet cats kept in cages.

  • View wildlife where it belongs: in the wild: Many zoos keep animals in poor conditions with their basic needs denied. Conservation zoos should have breeding programmes that meet the needs of the animals in their care, with a view to eventually releasing these animals, or their offspring, into the wild.
  • Never pay to have your picture taken with a wild animal: Many of these animals have been taken from the wild. They may be drugged, harshly trained or have had their teeth removed so they ‘behave’ around tourists.
  • Captivity cannot meet the natural needs of marine mammals like dolphins and whales: Activities like swimming with dolphins should always be avoided – they may appear fun and educational but are unnatural and stressful for the animals involved.
  • Never buy souvenirs made from wild animals: Avoid all products and souvenirs made from animals, including all fur, ivory, shells, seahorses, teeth, rhino horn and turtle shell products.
  • Avoid riding wild animals like elephants for entertainment: These animals are often captured from the wild, badly cared for and trained using inappropriate and cruel methods.

Tell the world:

What to do if you see an animal suffering on holiday

If you see an incident of animal cruelty, note the date, time, location, type and number of animals involved. If possible, record what you have seen on film.

It is vital to lodge your concerns locally. Report cruelty to:

  • the local tourist offices
  • local police
  • a local animal welfare society
  • your tour operator
  • the zoo or aquarium management and – if you have serious concerns – the zoo association for that country.

When you return home, inform the country’s embassy, your local politician, or the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (if relevant).

A bull lying hurt at a bullfight in Mexico