One of the main reasons travel is so amazing is that you get to see new things and have unique experiences. Seeing and interacting with local animals is wonderful and memorable. Riding on an elephant or snapping a photo with a tiger is certainly fun and might get a lot of likes on social media, but what many tourists don’t realize is that more than 550,000 animals are harmed every day due to tourism.
Many travelers are unaware of how dangerous some attractions can be to the animals, especially if there don’t seem to be any safety concerns to themselves. The truth is, many animals are mistreated, sedated, live in unacceptable conditions, and may even be malnourished — all to maximize profits.
As a resonsible traveler, you can choose to avoid harmful activities, help ensure the future of animal populations, and spread the word to others to do the same. Here are some of the most common animal activities that you may want to avoid.
16 of the Most Harmful Animals Activities Tourists Love
For the love of animals and the sustainability of our environment, I’ve created a list of the most harmful animal attractions to avoid when traveling, no matter how appealing they may seem:
- Buying Coral Jewelry: Coral provides an important ecosystem for millions of marine creatures, and harvesting it for use in jewelry is contributing to the downfall of coral reef systems.
- Taking an Elephant Ride: Elephants are often mistreated when training to be part of a tourist attraction.
- Drinking Snake Wine: Snakes control rodent populations, but they’re needlessly killed to make commodity snake wine.
- Taking Photos with Lions and Tigers: These large cats are usually sedated during the day for the safety of the tourist.
- Animal Performances: Animals undergo harsh punishments during training.
- Animal Fights: Animals fight non-natural predators or each other and often end up with severe wounds (and even death!)
- Cormorant Fishing: The birds have strings tied around their necks to prevent them from eating the fish.
- Ostrich Riding: Ostriches are not designed to support human weight and often end up with health issues and injuries.
- Buying Ivory Products: Elephant and rhino populations are in a rapid downward spiral. When ivory is harvested, the animal dies.
- Rodeos: Many of the animals in rodeos are overworked and mistreated during training.
- Swimming with Dolphins: Tour boats disturb the natural habitat of whales and dolphins, which can be particularly harmful to mothers with calves.
- Fish Pedicures: The fish used in pedicures eat your dead skin only because they are severely starved.
- Circuses with Animals: Animals endure harsh treatments and physical abuse. If you’re planning a trip to Germany, check out this amazing circus which uses holograms instead of animas!
- Horse Racing: Horses are constantly whipped and sometimes abused by their handlers.
- Horse-Drawn Carriage Rides: Horses are overworked and often pull large amounts of weight each day.
- Local Delicacies: Foods like shark fin soup, turtle soup, or kopi luwak coffee can wreak havoc on animal populations.
Get Your Animal Fix: What to Do Instead
I love animals and know they can make a trip truly unforgettable. If you want to include the local fauna in your excursion, consider visiting an animal sanctuary or research zoo. Even better, you can even volunteer at these places and possibly get up close and personal with some of the animals in their environment. Safari trips in Africa, Asia, and other regions, with reputable companies are also incredible ways to see animals in their natural habitat.
Before you book your next attraction, consider whether it’s in the animals’ best interest. If it’s not, you can make a difference by not spending your hard-earned money there. The more informed we are and the more we vote with our dollars, the more the message gets across to those who exploit animals for profit.