Ehrlich was unfamiliar with Alaskan wildlife tour operators, so she researched affiliates of sustainable tourism organizations and marine life advocates. I also read independent reviews and photos of excursions and “met” the owners and staff through their online profiles.
said Ehrlich, who eventually booked with Seward Ocean Tours The company is a member of whale sensea voluntary best-practice program sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Organization, and has been certified by Green Alaska Adventurewhich promote sustainable practices.
Before the pandemic, about 110 million people were visiting wildlife tourist attractions every year, according to Animal protection in the world. The international organization determined that 75 percent of activities involving wild animals — such as tiger selfies, ostrich rides, dolphin swimming and crocodile farms — are harmful to participants with four legs, fins or feathers. Global Animal Protection 2016 Report Using research by the University of Oxford’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, it was found that 3 out of 4 animal attractions had “animal abuse or conservation concerns”.
“It can be difficult for a traveler to identify and choose wildlife tours and activities that meet a certain standard,” he said. Jim SanoVice President of Travel, Tourism and Conservation at World Wildlife Fund.
Attitudes towards attracting animals are constantly evolving. Over the years, a number of entertainments, such as dolphin shows, cuddle leopard cubs, selfies of sloths and bathing elephants, have lost their innocent charm. Kurt Whelan, Chief Sustainability Officer at Habitat AdventuresAn eco-tour operator, he said, the pendulum also swings against the roaring waters to attract marine animals, which he described as “unnatural interference.”
Despite the moral minefield, experts say that attracting animals can be valuable, even crucial, experiences for all the species involved. “Trips are part of the solution to saving wildlife, as long as you minimize negative effects and maximize positive benefits,” Whelan said.
Here are some tips on how to humanely deal with the wild kingdom.
Read booking sites. Many online booking sites have put in place animal welfare policies that educate travelers about unethical attractions and determine their positions on these types of diversions, such as banning abusive activities from their platforms. for example, Viator and her parent company, Tripadvisor, will not list trips that involve harming or killing animals, such as bullfighting. The companies will also not accept advertising money or book experiences that violate certain human standards, such as physical interactions with captive or endangered wild species (with a few exceptions) or performances that degrade animals. For example, travelers cannot book any of the SeaWorlds, due to whale and swimming shows, or the Elephant Nature Park in Thailand. (To read the Tripadvisor policy, click on the print paws icon displayed in the About section of each animal attraction.)
“We have stopped booking many of the thousands of bookable attractions or experiences that include animals,” said Brian Hoyt, a Tripadvisor spokesperson, adding that travelers should share any concerns about the company’s animal abuse at email@example.com.
Tripadvisor is one of several travel booking sites and operators that have consulted with World Animal Protection on their protocols. As advised by the organization AirbnbAnd the Expedia GroupAnd the EF GO Ahead ToursAnd the Booking.com And the Virgin Holidays. In September 2020, I released Animal Care classification From more than a dozen travel companies. Airbnb took the lead; He tied GetYourGuide, Klook, and Musement for last place.
Groupon It was not included in the survey, but earlier this year the US Bureau of Animal Protection launched a campaign calling on the discount travel company to stop selling tickets to attractions that exploit animals. Groupon, which previously listed the Oklahoma Zoo operated by Joe “Tiger King” Maldonado, has not responded to the organization. As of press time, The Washington Post has not received a response to a request for comment.
Play detective. Before booking, check out the comments and photos that visitors have shared. Check independent review sites as well as social media. Pay attention to red flags such as feeding, petting, riding guests, or taking close-up selfies with wildlife. (This rule generally applies to wild animals, not domestic creatures.)
Carson Barillac, Campaigns Manager at International Fund for Animal Welfare. Other worrying signs: a large number of young animals or those inbred or hybrid species such as white tiger or leopard, lion crossed with tiger. Such evidence could suggest that the company is raising animals or playing a mad scientist with animals, Barillac said.
“Real sanctuaries don’t keep animals,” she said.
Look for places that have been checked. Go beyond the rabbit hole research step with an organization that gathers pre-approved reserves, conservation sites, wildlife viewing tours and more. Based in Phoenix World Federation of Animal ConservationFor example, he has certified or verified more than 150 sanctuaries, rescue facilities, and rehabilitation centers around the world. that it interactive map Allows you to search by animal and region. Connecting ‘great apes’ and ‘Africa’, for example, yields five outcomes, including Chimpanzee Sweetwaters Sanctuary in Kenya.
“Real sanctuaries solve the problems created by false sanctuaries,” Barillac said.
For lions, tigers, and other animals, Barillac recommends Big Cat Sanctuarywhose members include several sites open to the public, such as Carolina Tiger Rescue in North Carolina and A safe haven for wildlife in Nevada. The Performance of the Humane SocietyC., which operates three sanctuaries in California, holds a “Seeing the Elephants” event on select Saturdays at the ARK 2000 property in San Andreas. The last year will be held on December 3rd; Check in fall 2023 dates.
The Global Cetacean Alliance Create a map highlighting approved tour operators, zoos and aquariums from nearby (Gloucester, Massachusetts) and far (Mozambique) areas. For a zoo larger than zoos and aquariums, European Association of Zoos and Aquariums It has more than 400 members in nearly 50 countries in Europe and Western Asia. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums of Australia It grants its seal of approval to wildlife places in Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Singapore. and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Approximately 240 facilities have accredited in 13 countries, including the United States, Canada, and Mexico.
One note about AZA: It adopts zoos and aquariums that allow interaction with animals and demos, a position not many wildlife care groups embrace. These activities can be beneficial to animals if they are used for fertilization purposes and managed by wildlife professionals, said Dan Ash, the association’s president and CEO. He added: “Animals should be able to make their own decisions and walk away if they are not interested. They should not be persuaded, directed or coerced by food. They should not be disparaged or disrespectful in the activity. It should foster empathy for the animal.”
Ultimately, it is up to the visitor to decide whether to support or skip these establishments. “The onus is on us to ask: Is it healthy for the animals? Is it healthy for me?” he said.
Join an advocacy group. Raise the level of confidence by signing up for a trip arranged by or affiliated with an animal welfare or conservation group. Pacific Whale Foundation Buck Will’s Environmental Adventures He leads dolphin watching and whale watching cruises on Maui, among other whale-centric outings. The Conservation of sea turtles In Gainesville, Florida, he organizes turtle picnics on select evenings in June and July, as well as day picnics later in the summer focusing on loggerhead nests in Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge in Melbourne Beach, Florida.
For-profit travel companies and non-profit organizations also collaborate on excursions and tours. Nearly 20 years of partners, the World Wildlife Fund and Habitat Adventures It has collaborated on more than 80 tracks in 37 countries, according to Sano. One of WWF’s newest partners is Airbnb: In December 2020, WWF Mexico joined forces with a short-term rental company and the Mexican Federation of Tourist Associations to promote five driving routes through ecologically attractive regions in Mexico such as the Jaguar Pass, from Tuxtla Gutierrez to Calakmul.
Be informed and speak up. Before setting out on an animal adventure, learn about local, state, and federal wildlife protection laws. For example, a rule in Hawaii prohibits people from swimming with or approaching Hawaiian dolphins or staying within 50 yards of Hawaiian spinner dolphins. Maui County, which includes the inhabited islands of Maui, Molokai and Lanai, has prohibited institutions from displaying dolphins, porpoises and whales in captivity. It also banned commercial flights for sharks.
At the national level, the Marine Mammal Protection ActWhich turned 50 this year, is prohibited from feeding or harassing wild marine mammals, such as seals, whales, dolphins and manatees. According to NOAA Fisheries, illegal activities include “attempting to swim with or touch pets or provoke a reaction from the animals.” Last month, the US House of Representatives passed Big Cat Public Safety Actwhich, if approved by the Senate, would prevent people from keeping wild cats as pets, and ban exhibits that allow the public to interact directly with big cats such as lions, tigers and leopards.
If a company violates animal protection law or ignores best practices, Whelan suggests that you follow the advice espoused by the Department of Homeland Security: “If you see something, say something.”
An earlier version of this story stated that the Elephant Nature Park in Thailand allows visitors to wash the animals. In fact, visitors cannot wash the animals. The story has been updated.
Prospective travelers should take local and national public health guidance regarding the pandemic into consideration before planning any trips. Health Travel Notice information can be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s interactive map that displays travel recommendations by Destination and CDC Travel Health Notice webpage.