At first glance, TripAdvisor’s decision to stop selling tickets for activities that interact with captive animals and endangered species doesn’t seem like a big deal.
After all, you can still book interactions with wildlife through other agents. However, as one of the biggest travel sites in the world, taking such a stand is an exciting step forward for animal conservation in tourism.
Studies show that attractions such as elephant rides, tiger petting, and swim-with dolphin experiences cause the animals psychological and physical trauma resulting in shorter life spans.
Research conducted by the World Animal Protection and WildCRU last year found the millions of people that visit wildlife attractions consistently ranked clearly inhumane treatment of animals as “excellent” or “good” on TripAdvisor. In fact, 80% of reviewers failed to recognize that certain wildlife attractions were bad for the animals.
“TripAdvisor’s new booking policy and education effort is designed as a means to do our part in helping improve the health and safety standards of animals, especially in markets with limited regulatory protections,” Steve Kaufer, CEO and co-founder of TripAdvisor, Inc., said in a statement. “At the same time, we want to celebrate those destinations and attractions that are leaders in caring for animals and those in the tourism industry who help further the cause of animal welfare, conservation and the preservation of endangered species.”
In an effort to educate users on animal welfare, TripAdvisor will create information portals to provide links and information on proper animal welfare practices on every animal attraction listing on the site. Special “Paw” icons shown on the portals will allow travellers to be more informed about the experiences they are reviewing and allow them to make better choices when booking such interactions. The aim is to help to maintain awareness and improve the health and safety standards for animals held in captivity.
The move has been met with the support of a number of wildlife organisations:
“By refusing to sell tickets to businesses that treat animals as entertainment or playthings, TripAdvisor is making a precedent-setting statement about the use and abuse of animals for entertainment ” said PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. “
Dr. Joshua Plotnik, Executive Director and Founder, Think Elephants International: “One of the biggest issues facing wildlife species around the world is a lack of engagement by the general public in their conservation”…”TripAdvisor is providing a unique platform for Think Elephants International and other organizations to help people make these important decisions, and we are thrilled to be a part of it.”
There is nothing more thrilling than seeing wildlife in its natural habitat. From stumbling across a shy wallaby in the bush, to seeing a pod of dolphins surfing the waves off the coast of Narooma, these kinds of experiences enhance our lives…and they don’t need an organization to bring this experience to us. We can find this ourselves by being in nature directly.
Kudos to TripAdvisor for taking a step forward in animal rights and conservation awareness.
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