Wildlife Venues: The Good the Bad and the Ugly

Posted on 10/08/2018 by Guest Blogger

When we go on holiday it is often difficult to tell the difference between a genuine sanctuary and a venue that is exploiting wild animals and causing them suffering.

By guest blogger Aaron Lax

Below we have included some examples to help you make the best decisions for wild animals on holiday. 

The Good: Elephant Valley Thailand in Chiang Rai

Elephants feeding at Elephant Valley Thailand 

Ideally animals can live out their lives in their natural habitat. Unfortunately, animals that have been rescued from suffering in the tourism industry can’t be returned to the wild due to their past.

In this case, the next best thing for them is a sanctuary. Elephant Valley Thailand in Chiang Rai provides a haven for rescued elephants, where they can start to overcome their past and learn to behave naturally again. Elephants at the sanctuary can roam free and tourists can observe them behaving naturally, communicating and playing in a stress-free environment.

The Bad: Venues That Include Direct Contact

Tiger chained for selfies in Thailand

Many venues that offer direct contact with wild animals such as elephant washing, wild animal selfies and swimming with dolphins and sharks are causing animal suffering. These are wild animals and pain is used in the example of elephants to keep them under control. Wild animals are often stolen from the wild for selfies or encouraged with food into stressful and unnatural environments.

Avoid selfies with wildlife not in their natural habitat, swimming with marine life and animal souvenirs. Cruelty can also hide under the guise of local culture, such as cockfights, bullfights and the use of animals in religious or other festivals. View our Wildlife Selfie Code for more information on how you can help. 

The Ugly: The Cruellest Attractions

Tourists take a ride on an elephant in Thailand

Research by Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit and World Animal Protection has identified the world’s 10 cruellest animal attractions. These include elephant riding, tiger selfies and dolphin shows.

Wild animals such as elephants and tigers used for entertainment are separated from their mothers when babies and treated cruelly to keep them under control. Elephants used for rides and shows will have been put through ‘the crush’ to break their spirit, which includes sleep deprivation and the use of pain.

By being vigilant to venues that offer the opportunity to do any of the above, you can do your part in helping to end the suffering of thousands of wild animals currently enduring lifetimes of suffering at tourist entertainment venues globally.

View our ‘Checking out Cruelty’ report for more information on each of these types of attractions.

You Can Help

 Three female elephants at BLES sanctuary in Thailand - World Animal Protection

Three female elephants have been dubbed the 'gossip girls' by sanctuary staff at BLES

Wild animals belong in the wild, however, there are genuine sanctuaries out there. There are also venues that are trying to change from offering activities that encourage animal suffering and exploitation, to having the best interest of the animals in mind.

To help, please share this blog to help ensure tourists are making the best choices for animals as it isn’t always clear that the animals are suffering for entertainment.

You can also keep updated with our latest news from our newsletter (click here) and sign our wildlife selfie code (click here). Thank you.