World Animal Protection estimates that at least 550,000 wild animals are suffering at the hands of irresponsible wildlife tourist attractions around the world, many of which are promoted and sold via TripAdvisor, to its 300 million visitors each month. Tourists who are buying tickets to ride elephants, handle sea turtles,watch dolphin performances and take lion and tiger ‘selfies’, via the world’s largest travel site are usually unaware of the abuse and suffering the animals experience in these venues.
Despite World Animal Protection making numerous attempts to work with the company, TripAdvisor has failed to take any action, despite previously stating that they would “help travellers gain a better understanding of animal welfare and conservation practices."
The animals at these venues are often taken from their mothers when young, beaten, endure ongoing physical and psychological abuse during training to make them submissive enough to give rides, perform tricks or pose for holiday ‘selfies’ with tourists. They are then chained or kept in barren cages for the rest of their lives, a far cry from the freedom of their natural habitats.
TripAdvisor states that the listings on its website do not represent any form of endorsement by the travel site, instead providing a platform for travellers to share their positive or negative opinions. Yet, contrary to its claim of ‘impartiality’, TripAdvisor ranks and rewards cruel venues through their Popularity Index and Certificate of Excellence programme, boosting their website presence and reinforcing their popularity with potential travellers.
World Animal Protection proposed to TripAdvisor the following changes:
- Stop sales of tickets to cruel wildlife attractions, such as those sold via subsidiary company Viator
- Stop cruel attractions from receiving a Certificate of Excellence
- Stop cruel attractions from being ranked in their Popularity Index
- Introduce a WildlifeLeaders programme based on their existing GreenLeaders programme, helping users to make informed choices and encouraging businesses to implement better welfare and conservation standards for animals.
Gajender K Sharma, India Country Director at World Animal Protection says: “TripAdvisor is hugely influential and has a critical role to play in helping to end the cruel abuse of wild animals in tourism. We know people want to see wild animals, but they need to be aware of the suffering that goes on behind the scenes and make better, animal friendly, choices. TripAdvisor has an important role to play in educating tourists and highlighting animal-friendly venues, where wild animal can roam free and there is no direct contact between tourists and animals.
“Eight out of ten tourists leave positive reviews for cruel wildlife attractions on TripAdvisor because they don’t see the abuse. It’s time TripAdvisor started educating tourists on wildlife friendly venues, similar to the way it promotes eco-friendly accommodations through their GreenLeaders programme.”
The charity is asking the public to get behind them by signing the petition to demand TripAdvisor act responsibly and stop profiting from cruelty.
Press release source: