By João Almeida – Wildlife Manager of World Animal Protection
The exploitation of wild animals for entertainment is still a sad reality around the world. Behind events that appear to be harmless, there are a number of problems, ranging from inadequate facilities to physical and psychological mistreatment.
Animal welfare abuses include being beaten or being injured during training along with spending decades in captivity – some dolphins, for example, can live up to 50 years in tanks (imagine an animal living its entire life inside a single tank). They are also forced to do tricks, to let tourists ride on them or to serve as accessories for holiday souvenir photos.
When governments do not protect animals, it often falls to consumers to promote change through their power of choice, but this change will be influenced by packages, tours and tickets sold by tourism companies. If an experiment with wild animals – for example, riding an elephant, taking selfies with tigers or sloths – is offered, it may be hard for the tourist to see the problem, particularly if, like most people, he or she is not aware of the cruelty involved.
This is where the tourism industry can make a difference.
We believe that instead of encouraging this kind of practice, it could become part of the solution. For this reason, since 2015, World Animal Protection has taken part in the sector’s most important events in order to guide the main players in the tourist market in relation to the problem and to encourage them to promote ethical alternatives such as observing wildlife in nature or in real sanctuaries.
Recently, we were at ITB Berlin for the launch of our new report about marine mammals in captivity, which alerts us to the horrendous conditions in which these animals live. Now, we’ll be at WTM Latin America in the city of São Paulo to talk to travel agencies and other of the market’s decision makers and help them put animals on their global agenda.
As part of our “Wild. No entertainment” campaign, we have already secured a commitment from more than 200 tour operators around the world – including Trip Advisor – to prevent the sale and promotion of tours and attractions that exploit animals. As part of this market, travel agencies and operators can have a huge positive impact on animals and on the planet.
If you are from the sector and also want to make a difference to wild animals – and consolidate your company as one that is in line with the trends of the tourist market – come and have a chat with us during the fair.
Together, we can move the world to protect animals.
Find out more at: protecaoanimalmundial.com.br