There’s trouble in paradise

Across the world, and throughout Asia, wild animals are being taken from the wild, torn away from their family groups, or bred in captivity, to be used in the tourism entertainment industry.

Forced to endure painful and intensive training to make them perform, and to interact with people, they live their entire lives in captive conditions that cannot meet their needs. A life in tourist entertainment is no life for a wild animal. It is inherently cruel and abusive.

Our latest wildlife investigation documents the scale of wildlife used (and, yes, abused) for entertainment by the tourism industry on Bali, Lombok and Gili Trawangan, Indonesia.

Our investigators observed more than 1,500 captive wild animals across 26 venues including elephants, turtles, dolphins, orangutans, civets and a variety of other species for entertainment activities with visitors. All with little or no regard for the welfare of the animals.

Our Wildlife abusement parks report documents saddled elephant rides and shows, selfie opportunities with orangutans and opportunities to swim with dolphins.

A snapshot of wild animal suffering

Among the key welfare issues observed as part of the investigation we found:

  • extreme restraint through chains or cages;
  • limited opportunity to naturally socialise with other animals;
  • participation in stressful and potentially harmful activities, including interaction with people and performing in shows;
  • non-existent or insufficient veterinary care;
  • and inadequate nutrition and diet for some captive wild animals.

Whether it’s posing for a photograph with an animal, visiting live animal shows or riding wild animals, increasing demand from people on holiday means these animals will continue to suffer for our entertainment. At 30% of dolphin entertainment venues, dolphins have had their teeth filed down or removed entirely, to ensure that they are unable to inflict serious bites on swimmers.       

And all of the elephant venues surveyed offered elephant rides, which requires painful training to gain control over the elephants, exposes them to stressful situations, and restricts them from expessing their natural behaviour.

There’s no excuse. It’s abuse

 

Keeping wild animals in the wild

Wild animals belong in the wild. We’re calling for an end to the abuse of wild animals used in tourism entertainment. To achieve this, World Animal Protection is working alongside governments, tourist venues, and local communities to develop sustainable and economically viable solutions.

Make ethical tourism choices and be part of the solution. Avoid wildlife abusement parks and boycott the travel companies that promote and/or sell tickets to them, and don't have animal welfare policies.

 

Wild animals belong in the wild, not in entertainment.

There’s no excuse. It’s abuse.

Commit to avoiding wildlife abusement parks and boycotting travel companies that don't have comprehensive animal welfare policies.

Ending the abuse, together

When researching our Bali Abusement Parks report, we found that prominent Australian travel companies and airlines like Flight Centre, Helloworld, Lonely Planet and Qantas, were promoting and selling tickets to these cruel venues. This promotion by such high-profile, trusted brands helps to normalise the venues and the cruel activities they offer.

When we contacted these companies, their response was positive and welcome, offering to remove the content we identified. Qantas is undertaking an audit of their websites worldwide to remove elephant riding promotions. Flight Centre and Helloworld are also working to remove cruel wildlife entertainment venues in other countries from their websites.

But they need to go further. All travel companies and airlines should have an animal welfare policy that ensures they are not promoting venues and attractions that involve cruelty to animals. They should also help educate their customers about the need to avoid these venues. It’s not just about elephant riding; dolphin swims, animal selfies, and venues where animals are kept in unacceptable conditions are just as cruel.

Disappointingly, Qantas has ruled out developing such a policy and told us they will do no more than remove content we identify. We expect more from this iconic Australian brand. For a brand that is recognised around the world by a logo that proudly features a wild animal, Qantas must show leadership in developing an animal welfare policy that helps end cruelty to wild animals in the name of “entertainment”.