The world truly is your oyster these days, with travel becoming easier and cheaper than ever before. But is the money you put aside for travelling actually supporting animal cruelty?
The sad reality is that the need for unique travel experiences can have a negative impact on animals and wildlife across the world. That profile pic you took with a tiger in Thailand? The sea turtle you held in the Cayman Islands? The elephant you rode in Bali? The horse and cart ride you took around New York’s Central Park? Even if you weren’t aware, these are all tourist activities that don’t have animals’ best interests in mind.
Wildlife tourism is a booming industry, with an estimated 560,000 wild animals currently involved in wildlife tourist attractions across the world. Whilst a portion of these have a positive impact on the welfare of animals involved (i.e. wildlife sanctuaries), the sad reality is that there are countless wild animals being held captive and treated irresponsibly for the purpose of tourism.
Want to ensure your super doesn’t fund cruel wildlife tourism? Make the switch to Cruelty Free Super today.
If the above strikes a chord with you and you want to be more cautious about where your travel money goes, here are some tips for changing your travel habits for the good of animals.
This is an obvious one. Before you go anywhere, do your research. When you know about the suffering, you won’t want to be a part of activities like walking a lion in South Africa or touring civet coffee plantations in Vietnam. Doing your research keeps you informed and will help you make the right choices. When booking a tour or experience involving animals, inquire if the company has committed to the World Animal Protection Organisation’s agreement to end wildlife cruelty in tourism entertainment.
Most animals used as props for photos have been taken from the wild as a baby. Those who grow too large could then ultimately be killed. The Gibbon Rehabilitation Project estimates that for every one gibbon you see on the street, 10-15 gibbons are killed in the name of a photo. Most will have their teeth removed too so that they can’t bite tourists.
Again, do your research. Besides captivity being wrong, some countries make taking protected species from the wild illegal. If you suspect an animal has been taken illegally, report it to either the local tourist office, police station, or animal welfare society and be sure to detail the location, date, time, number of animals, and type of cruelty involved.
If a hotel displays captive animals or hangs animals from the walls, don’t stay in it. Also, check the menu in the hotel restaurant (and all restaurants for that matter) to ensure no exotic animals are being served up as food.
Zoos often cannot meet the basic needs of their animals, particularly exotic animals. Marine animals like whales and dolphins are a definite no-no, as their needs aren’t even close to being met in captivity. Animals that perform in circuses and zoos often experience high levels of stress and even trauma caused by inadequate living conditions and cruel training methods. Instead, view animals in their natural environment by visiting some of these great places.
Elephant rides make for a lucrative tourism business, but the popular activity is subject to cruel training practices. In fact, 75% of adult elephants used for tourism entertainment have been taken directly from the wild. Elephants are intelligent and sensitive animals and don’t fare well under confinement, long working hours, chains, and stress. Admire them from afar, don’t sit on them.
It might be culturally significant to attend a bullfight, rodeo, or cockfight, but cruelty in the name of culture has gone on too long. Hunting was once a necessity for survival, but now it’s just entertainment that can cause extreme stress, pain, and even death to animals. Isn’t it time we just say no?
If you notice animal cruelty in a country you are visiting, there’s a good chance that somewhere in that country is an animal sanctuary. Find out where it is and support it by volunteering a couple of hours of your time, some resources, or some funds. Not only can you gain a better understanding of local animal protection issues when visiting a sanctuary, you can find an opportunity to engage with animals in a way that benefits them too.
Overseas farming practices are a bit of the unknown, so if you’re not sure, travel vegan-style. Vegan travel is made easy in places like India, Malaysia, Thailand, Sumatra, and even Israel so why eat animal products if you don’t have to? A plant-based diet will fuel you with energy for all your adventures, too!
If you’re considering booking an organised tour or you’re making arrangements through a travel agent, check if they have an animal welfare policy in place. If you’re making your own arrangements, ask friends and family questions or ask online. The more equipped with knowledge you are, the smarter the decisions you make. If you encounter animals as you travel, ask yourself the following;
The thing to remember is that you don’t need to stop travelling, you just need to travel smarter. To travel with your integrity intact, stop and think. Do you really need that picture with a gibbon
on your shoulder or would a beautiful landscape be sufficient? If you’re an animal lover and you want wildlife to be part of your travels, do sufficient research and only take part in renowned eco tours where nature and wildlife are left undisturbed.
At Cruelty Free Super we are passionately committed to ending animal suffering worldwide. That’s why we don’t invest in any industries that cause harm or cruel suffering to animals. If you care about the well-being of wildlife, make the switch to Australia’s first vegan, animal-friendly super fund and rest assured that your money won’t fund the mistreatment of animals.
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