If your next vacation's itinerary includes swimming with dolphins, riding an elephant, or feeding a tiger cub, you might want to rethink your plans. The behind-the-scenes cruel treatment of these animals has been under pressure recently, especially by TripAdvisor. On October 11 of this year, the world's largest travel site announced in a press release that “hundreds of animal attractions where tourists come into physical contact with captive wild animals or endangered species will no longer be bookable on TripAdvisor or Viator.” While some attractions will cease association with TripAdvisor immediately, the company's complete policy revision is planned to be fully implemented in early 2017.
Of course, a change this great doesn't happen by simply eliminating attractions from a site. Change happens through education and the process of learning. That's why TripAdvisor is also launching a new educational portal which will provide links and information on animal welfare practices at each approved attraction. The goal, according to the press release, is to “help travelers to write more informed reviews about their experience, and to be aware of opinions that exist on the conservation implications and benefits of some tourism attractions. In turn, TripAdvisor believes that better reviews will enable travelers to make more informed booking decisions and improve the standards of animal care in tourism worldwide.” Through the educational portal, travelers will find responsible ways to engage the whole family with animals, such as horseback riding, petting zoos with domestic animals, and aquarium touch pools with the supervision of wildlife officials.
TripAdvisor's policy and educational reform isn't possible without its partnerships with organizations already leading in animal welfare and conservation, such as Association of Zoos and Aquariums, Global Wildlife Conservation, Asian Elephant Support, Think Elephants International, Sustainable Travel International, PETA, and World Animal Protection. Together, they believe that they can make a big difference in the treatment of animals, and the future of global tourism. Wes Sechrest, CEO of Global Wildlife Conservation, commends TripAdvisor for their actions, saying, “We want people to connect with wildlife and feel inspired by wild places, and this will help provide a guide for how to do so without further endangering our planet's biodiversity.”
TripAdvisor has taken the first step. Now it's our turn to do our research and book responsibly.
Above image via @gemasatria
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