If you can ride it, hug it or have a selfie with the wild animal, the chances are it’s a cruel venue. Don’t go.
In this blog, Aaron Lax our comms volunteer, focusses on what you can do on an animal-friendly holiday.
You can reduce suffering and still enjoy memorable and awe-inspiring experiences with animals and still have a fantastic trip that doesn’t involve direct or indirect contribution to animal exploitation.
Being informed and applying information are two very different things, but luckily it’s never been easier to avoid contributing to animal suffering when enjoying your time away. All you have to do is follow a few simple steps.
What can you do?
Check an animal has food and water
A key indication of animal cruelty is the complete disregard for the necessities of a comfortable life. Animals used for entertainment purposes are subject to strenuous and extensive work hours without access to fresh water or food. This can result in exhaustion, dehydration and heat stress.
Do help to lift the burden of a gruelling day by seeing if you can source some food and water.
Make sure the animal can rest and has adequate shelter
Without the protection of their natural habitat, wild animals are often kept in shelter that does not serve its required purpose. This not only leaves them completely open to the elements it also eliminates their potential for effective rest.
Do document and report any signs of poor habitat to a local organisation via World Animal Net.
Ensure the animal isn’t suffering or in pain
As animals used for entertainment are seen as commodities, they are treated as objects for profit. This usually results in poor nutrition, ill health, unsatisfactory diet and little to no veterinary care. Some animals also have their teeth pulled out or their claws clipped, resulting in prolonged suffering.
Do ensure that you report any conditions of cruelty to a local organisation via World Animal Net.
Be aware of unnatural behaviour
Much like us, many wild animals exist within and rely upon complex social structures. Also, like us, these structures are incredibly important in ensuring good health and well-being. Animals exploited for tourism are forced to perform unnatural behaviours that are detrimental to their needs.
Do respect the social requirements of wild animals and leave them in the wild where they belong.
Cruelty isn’t always easy to see
Suffering and trauma don’t always show themselves on surface level. Animals used for entertainment are usually broken by cruel training methods and kept in inadequate, cramped conditions. This leaves them subject to psychological trauma that won’t always be obvious.
Do understand the nature of the industry and what training lies behind captive cruelty. Encourage friends and family members to stay away.
Get more from your compassionate holiday
One of the easiest ways to ensure your trip away is an enjoyable and ethical one is to plan ahead. This way, you can hit the ground running and spend more time enjoying the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and culture of your trip instead of worrying about whether or not you are contributing to animal cruelty.
By doing some research you greatly increase your potential for making positive choices.
- If you’re planning on visiting any venues that contain animals, find out how they are treated and where they come from.
- When it comes to exotic foods, knowing the source is important for animal welfare. Is the animal endangered or rare? If so, it is more often than not from illegal trade.
- Culture is a big part of any holiday and we understand that it is quite often a highlight of any travel experience. Although you should be respectful, remember, tradition does not negate suffering.
By being vigilant to animal exploitation, you will not only avoid cruel venues you will also find you are much more likely to find yourself having a much richer, more interesting and more memorable animal experience by opting to see them in the wild.
As an experience, there is no comparison between seeing an animal in captivity and an animal in its natural home. Simply put, it is one of the most beautiful, most heart-warming ways to make the world a better place for animals worldwide.
Travel Better. Travel Happier. Travel Compassionately.