Last year, I traveled to Thailand in the same way as I did ten-years ago, but this time I was a backpacker. This time, I wasn’t content to just enjoy the beautiful beaches and hang out with fellow travellers.
My purpose was to visit wildlife tourist attractions in Thailand. I wanted to see for myself what elephants, Tigers, and other wild animals go through every day for tourist entertainment.
Although I was ready to witness the cruelty, seeing it in person left me with an extremely sad feeling. It also strengthened my belief in the Wildlife – Not entertainers campaign’s ability to make a difference for these animals.
They would have known…
The elephant camp travelers didn’t seem to feel any danger in riding the elephants.
They would be able to feel the same if they knew about the cruel taming process the elephant had to go through as a baby in order to allow people to ride on her back.
Imagine if they realized that the elephant would carry thousands or even millions of tourists along the same route she had taken for their ride, day after day, for the rest her life. They didn’t realize that she would be tied down and unable to move freely, or socially interact with elephants, after such a long, hot day.
Would they have taken the elephant ride if they had known?
Tiger selfies: The cruelty behind them
Similar questions were raised when I visited a Tiger Park and observed other visitors. They paid for a photo session, instead of an entry fee. Prices varied depending on how big the tigers were. Small cubs were the most expensive, while large tigers were the most costly.
Many travellers have a bucket list item that includes elephant rides and a photo taken with a tiger. If they knew that the mother of the tiger was taken so soon after his birth, would they have thought it cool to share their tiger-selfies via social media? They might have known that the tiger is being abused to keep him docile. Or if they knew that a small, barren cage is an awful place for wild animals to live?
Would they have taken a selfie with a tiger if they knew about the cruelty?
Most people are aware of the cruelty and would prefer to avoid wildlife tourist attractions. After seeing the cruelty of wildlife entertainment, I am convinced that we can end it by raising awareness. We must open people’s eyes. We are seeing positive changes in the lives of wild animals every day.
Protecting wildlife around the globe
Our mission is to work with travel agencies around the world to make their holidays more ethical and responsible. More than 100 companies have made the commitment to cease promoting elephant shows and rides, and this number is growing rapidly.
You and I can also help to end the cruel entertainment industry for wildlife. We have reached out to Thomas Cook Group, one the world’s largest tour operators, and convinced them to stop supporting elephant entertainment. We have already had over 250,000 people join us in our efforts to raise awareness and take action.
What you can do
Get involved in our movement to save wild animals. Keep an eye out for upcoming actions to support wildlife conservation.
When someone talks about their desire to see wildlife, explain how they can make it happen in a responsible manner. For example, they could go out and observe wild animals in the wild, or in a wildlife sanctuary.
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Do you have any photos of wild animals that you can ride, hold, or take with? Leave a TripAdvisor review to let others know that cruelty is possible.