People love animals. We want to be closer to them and learn more about them. But the reality that many tourists don’t see when they decide to get up close and personal with wildlife is disappointing. In fact, riding elephants, taking pictures with tigers, and other similar activities are slavery for wild animals.
The problem of ethical attitude to wildlife is currently very acute. Residents who want to get closer to wildlife through places like zoos and national parks often don’t realize just how humane it is. As you plan your next wilderness adventure, keep these tips in mind:
Look for places where the animals look full and have access to clean water at all times. If a place has a high rating on TripAdvisor, the conditions there are most likely humane. Pay attention to one- and two-star reviews – in such reviews visitors often describe the problems they noticed.
Appreciate the space
See if the place provides a suitable habitat for the animals, if they have a shelter, a comfortable seating area, a secluded place away from the crowd, if there is enough space. Beware of places that are full of buzzwords such as “bring back to life”, “sanctuary”, “salvation”, etc. If a property makes a statement in this way but offers visitors close interaction with animals, it is not ethical.
Pay attention to the treatment of animals
Avoid places where animals are visibly injured or forced to engage in activities that could harm or hurt them, and places where animals are not kept clean. Being chained up, performing in front of a crowd and interacting with tourists – riding, posing, getting watered – is not the norm for a wild animal, even one born in captivity.
Keep an eye on the noise level
Be aware that large crowds and unnatural noises are stressful for animals, especially those that have gone through fear-based learning, separation from their mothers at birth, or other traumatic events.
But the best option is the observation of animals in their natural habitat.
The global wildlife tourism industry is an entrepreneurial activity. The individual actions of tourists can have a collective meaning, signaling to the market that consumers support ethical wildlife experiences. When tourists make it clear that they want humane treatment of animals, this market will change for the better.