An elephant at Changchill, a higher welfare elephant venue

UN World Tourism Organisation urged to create a better future for animals


Animals must not be forgotten in the UN’s plan for rebuilding tourism

The World Tourism Organisation is the United Nations (UNWTO) agency responsible for the promotion of responsible and sustainable tourism.

As the world recovers from the global Coronavirus crisis, they have put forward new recommendations for rebuilding the tourism industry. However, we were disappointed to see there was no mention of wildlife-friendly tourism.

Irresponsible wildlife tourism is a risk to humans

Wildlife tourism accounts for up to 40% of all tourism globally. Many of these attractions rely on keeping wild animals in captivity to be handled, posed with, ridden or used as performers. Given the connection between wildlife exploitation and emerging infectious diseases (such as Covid-19), phasing them out should be a key consideration for the rebuilding of a more resilient industry.

Animals suffer every step of the way

Wild animals exploited as tourist entertainment attractions live a life full of suffering and deprivation. This includes big cat petting and feeding experiences, any close-up selfie with a wild animal, swimming with dolphins, riding elephants or handling animals such as sloths, civet cats, primates, and turtles.

The complex needs of wild animals, whether they are captive-bred or wild-caught, can only be fully met in their natural habitat.

Several wild dolphins swimming in the ocean - photo by Adrien Aletti

Wild dolphins swimming in the ocean - photo by Adrien Aletti

Building a better future

We wrote an open letter to the UNWTO endorsed by over 200 organisations urging them to call for all captive wildlife entertainment to be completely phased out of the global tourism industry.

We believe that the transition to wildlife friendly tourism is not only better for both animals and people, it is integral to the secure and sustainable future of the global tourism industry. This will:

  • Minimise the risk of future pandemics
  • Protect the health of tourists and tourism workers
  • Protect all wildlife species

The wider campaign

Changing wildlife tourism is an important part of our campaign to end the global wildlife trade. Forever.

The growth of global tourism has driven the trade of hundreds of thousands of wild animals to be used for entertainment, where they suffer in inhumane captive conditions. As the recent COVID-19 outbreak shows, the global wildlife trade is not only animal cruelty - it puts people at risk too.

Orangutan selfies in Bali

Wildlife tourism

If a venue that houses wildlife allows you to ride, hug, cuddle or take a selfie with a wild animal, cruelty is surely involved.

Elephant riding at Mason Elephant Park. Credit: Andito Wasi / World Animal Protection

Stop travel giants selling cruelty

Help us demand GetYourGuide, Traveloka,, and TUI Musement stop the sale of cruel wildlife experiences.

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