Animal Cruelty: The Tourist Attractions that Should be BannedNov 30, 2017
550,000 wild animals currently suffer at hands of wildlife tourism. Last week in Cambodia, the death of a working elephant caused a global uproar and prompted thousands to sign a petition calling to ban the use of the majestic animals for entertainment. The elderly elephant was ferrying tourists to the famous Angkor Wat temple in a 40C (104 F) heatwave when it collapsed and died.
The petition urges that the shocking event should be a wake up call in regards to the heinous suffering of captive, working elephants in the Angkor region. It states that the cruelty experienced by these creatures is often hidden from view, and that they are subjected to a lifetime of misery.
Unfortunately, animal cruelty in tourism is rife and can be found across the globe in many different forms. According to a new study written by experts from Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit or WildCRU (commissioned by World Animal Protection), 3 out of 4 wildlife tourist attractions involve some sort of animal cruelty.
World Animal Protection has used its findings from the study to compile a list of the cruelest wildlife attractions from across the globe, in order to raise awareness, stop the demand and end the suffering of wild animals in captivity.
Below are the top ten attractions listed by the study.
1. Riding Elephants
Baby elephants are taken from their mothers and subjected to a training process that involves inflicting severe pain with metal “bull hooks” or wooden batons. They are heavily restrained with ropes and chains and kept in small cages. The training often results in permanent psychological damage.
Once ‘broken’, they are prevented from forming normal social relationships with other elephants. Their spirits are crushed until they are at a point where they let humans interact with them. The world’s hotbed for elephant riding is said to be Thailand, but the industry also thrives in places such as Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Laos, India and more recently, South Africa.
2. Tiger Selfies
A trend has recently developed where tourists want photographs with wild animals, and the market is responding to the demand. Tiger cubs are removed from their mothers and housed in poor conditions where tourists are invited to handle and hug them for a photograph. 10 venues housing 614 tigers were documented in Thailand. Similar attractions are also found in other parts of Asia, Australia, Mexico and Argentina.
“Certainly we are seeing the exploitation of animals for our entertainment is increasing and the selfie phenomenon is one driver of that.” – Nicola Beynon, World Animal Protection.
3. Walking with Lions & Tigers
Once the lions and tigers have grown too big for tourists to hold for a photograph, they are kept in captivity and forced to partake in ‘Walking with lions’ tours. They are often kept in barren cages with no shade and fed poorly. After this, the older animals are sold into the canned trophy hunting industry where are brutally killed for recreation.
4. Bear Parks
Bears are naturally solitary animals, highly intelligent, capable of empathy and active for 18 hours per day in their natural habitat. But in bear parks they are confined to tiny, sterile, concrete, often overcrowded pits and sometimes forced to dress as clowns or perform circus tricks. The stress inflicted on these bears can lead to bacterial infections and early onset arthritis. They are forced to pace endlessly in circles and beg tourists for morsels of food.
5. Holding Sea Turtles
Suffering from stress and disease, sea turtles live a tortured life at the Cayman Turtle Farm. They often panic when they are handled and it has been known for tourists to drop them, causing significant and often fatal injuries.
6. Performing Dolphins & Orcas
Captive dolphins spend their lives in spaces far too small for them. The water they live in is treated with harsh chemicals like chlorine that can cause skin and eye irritations. They can suffer from sun burn and gastric ulcers, as well as other stress related illnesses. Some are bred in captivity, others are taken from the wild.
“They are often chased by high-speed boats before being hauled on board or caught in nets. For many, the stress is too much to take and they die during transportation to their intended destinations.” – World Animal Protection WildCRU Report.
The treatment of orcas is no better. Fortunately, following the pressure of the documentary made on the mistreatment of the captive whales ”Blackfish”, SeaWorld finally made the decision to cease breeding orcas for theatrical shows across the US. The decision has come almost 3 years after the release of the film, with SeaWorld promising to make a move towards more natural encounters that focus on exercise and health with its remaining killer whales.
7. Dancing Monkeys
In Thailand, macaques are trained from a young age to behave more like humans. They are forced to dance and perform tricks for humans. When they aren’t performing, they are kept on chains. World Animal Protection uncovered 290 macaques housed in venues offering shows in Thailand.
8. Touring Civet Coffee Plantations
A new delicacy called Kopi Luwak is made from coffee beans (berries) that are ingested and excreted by Civets. The product has become of high value across the globe, selling for up to $100/cup. While no harm is caused when the Civets’ pellets are collected in the wild, coffee farmers have begun capturing the animals and feeding them berries to raise their yield.
In Indonesia, tourists can visit these facilities to see the caged civets and sample the coffee, increasing the number being taken from the wild. Captive civets have shown signs of stress related illness and disease as well as evidence of self mutilation.
9. Snake Charming
While snake charming has been around for centuries, there is a new twist on this form of street entertainment called ‘Kissing Cobras’. The snakes are captured from the wild and have their fangs removed so that tourists can safely get a photo while they pretend to kiss. The removal of a cobra’s fangs is usually performed with metal pliers, and the venom ducts are either blocked or removed. The equipment used is often not sanitized and can lead to infection and death.
10. Crocodile Farming
Crocodiles have been farmed for their skin and meat for many years. It is now possible for tourists to visit the overcrowded and unhygienic facilities where they are kept, and even sit down for a meal afterwards. Crocodiles are very sensitive to stress, and in these high stress environments they become susceptible to infection and fatal diseases such as septicemia.
“Because of competition for limited space in the (concrete) pits, and also for food and water, the crocodiles will fight each other, sometimes to the death. They also rip off one another’s legs — such serious injuries can eventually kill them too.” – World Animal Protection WildCRU Report.
How to Help?
In further research, more than 50,000 Trip Advisor reviews were analyzed to gain insight into who visits these attractions. The findings showed that 80% of the visitors were unaware of the cruelty that the animals were being subjected to.
Head of campaigns at World Animal Protection, Nicola Beynon urges that spreading awareness is the first step towards conquering the issue. She says the challenge is now to encourage tourists to make a united stand against cruel practices, to drive down demand and transform the wildlife industry globally.
“If you can ride it, hug it or have a selfie with a wild animal, then you can be sure it is cruel. Vote with your feet and don’t go.” – Kate Nustedt, World Animal Protection’s director of wildlife.
Learn more about World Animal Protection’s work, and how you can help their cause at www.worldanimalprotection.org.au