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Be an animal-friendly tourist and ensure your actions don’t contribute to animal cruelty

How do I become an animal-friendly tourist? 

Choose ethical, eco-friendly activities that support the communities and initiatives promoted by local animal welfare organisations. Do thorough research before taking part in any wildlife experience or animal interaction and don’t be afraid to ask questions to understand the conditions for animals and what the impact of your visit will be. 

If you can watch a circus-style animal show, cuddle, take a selfie with or ride an animal, in general, the facility is probably best avoided.

Instead, lend your support to facilities and organisations where you can view wild animals carrying out their normal and natural behaviours from a respectful distance. 

What should I avoid?

  • Photo opportunities – think before that photo – are you sure the animal isn’t scared or hasn’t suffered for it?
  • Animal handling interactions – can I touch or hug a wild animal? When not expertly managed, they may well suffer for you to be able to.
  • Riding animals – do I really want to be the next ride? Many animals are given little rest or respite just so we can ride them.
  • Buying products made from animals – trinket or tragedy? Think before you buy wildlife products and how they might have been sourced.
  • Not your instincts! If you feel uncomfortable around the interaction, the chances are the animal does too, if it doesn’t seem right then don’t do it – trust your instincts!

ONLY take part in animal interactions when animal welfare isn’t harmed

Don’t take part in interactions with wild animals if their welfare appears to be compromised or they cannot choose whether to take part or not, like selfie experiences and riding. Many animals will have been badly handled during training or taken away early from their mothers. Often wild animals used for riding have ill-fitting equipment and suffer significantly during ‘breaking-in’ processes. Be questioning about how domestic animals such as horses and camels are cared for too. Many wild animal facilities around the world carry out visitor-animal interactions, some can be a positive experience for the animals, but many are not. We know it can be difficult to tell if the experience is good for animal welfare or not, so if you are at all unsure, don’t take part.

ONLY attend animal-friendly shows & performances

Many captive wild animal facilities, such as zoos and aquariums, put on public shows and performances involving wild animals. It is vital the animals involved always have a choice as to whether they take part or not and that wherever animals are used, they are carrying out their normal and natural behaviours, not circus-style tricks or stunts. We know it can be difficult to tell if the experience is good for animal welfare or not, so read our helpful advice and if you are at all unsure, don’t attend.

Be a responsible Palm Oil User

Palm oil is in hundreds of the products we use every day, from food items to toiletries. Rainforests in Southeast Asia – home to tigers, elephants, orangutans and thousands of other wild animals – are being cleared at an alarming rate, often illegally, to develop palm oil plantations.

Check your products for palm oil, choose some alternatives or only buy items containing sustainable palm oil. Learn more about sustainable palm oil HERE, find some great alternative product choices HERE, get a shopping list of ethical brands HERE, and find out about palm oil campaigns – like the one from Australia’s Zoos Victoria – and get involved if you can.

Support good wildlife sanctuaries & conservation

Like zoos, not all wildlife sanctuaries are the same. From animal hoarding to lack of experience, there are many reasons why some have very poor standards of welfare. Support sanctuaries with high animal welfare by doing research and checking up-to-date reviews – do travel companies with animal welfare policies support them and do they contribute to local community and conservation projects? Good sanctuaries offer a lifetime of care for their animals, they do not encourage breeding or physical interaction. Are they a member of the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (although not all good animal sanctuaries are members)? Consider volunteering at a sanctuary – remember a good sanctuary will not encourage physical interaction with animals – but you can learn about natural behaviours and compassionate animal care, support community and conservation initiatives.

Report wildlife trafficking

The illegal trade in wildlife is an international crisis, responsible for the loss and persecution of thousands of wild animal species globally. Beautiful and unique animals including pangolins, slow lorises, macaws and many others are caught from the wild and sold into the wildlife trade illegally, devastating wild populations. The Wildlife Witness smartphone app enables you to report wildlife trade and make your own contribution to worldwide efforts to fight wildlife crime and trafficking.

Offset your carbon emissions

By all doing our bit to prevent the damaging impacts of climate change we can help protect wild animal species and the environment now and in the future. If you are planning a holiday then why not stay local, find the hidden gems in your native country and reduce your carbon footprint at the same time. If you do go further afield, consider supporting a carbon offsetting scheme to neutralise the impact of your travel. We support Plant Your Future, to help offset the carbon emissions generated when travelling to our global projects. They protect rainforests in Peru by supporting local communities and sustainable agriculture.

Do not buy products made from animals

Avoid purchasing souvenir products such as shells, seahorses, animal teeth, skins or bones. An animal or many animals probably died unnecessarily to make the souvenir. As well as the trade in wild animal species causing destruction and death to the species itself, damage is also caused to surrounding habitats. If tourist demand for souvenirs like these reduces, animals and the environment will be better off now and in the future.

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