Travel is an opportunity to experience different cultures, meet new people, taste weird and wonderful foods and – for many – get close to wildlife you may have only seen in books or David Attenborough documentaries. Lately, there’s been a rise in animal-related incidents around the world, and it doesn’t sit well with us. We’re seeing things on social media and the news that bring the welfare of wild animals into question: tiger selfies in Thailand, yoga on elephants in Malaysia (really, it’s a thing) or someone holding a sea turtle up to the camera in the Caymans.
Six tips for being an animal-friendly traveller Do your research before you go: if you’re planning on visiting somewhere that offers animal encounters, do your research and investigate the venues you intend to visit. Think about how the animals are treated and find out where they came from.
Ask questions and choose wisely: before you book anything, check if your tour operator or has an animal welfare policy (you can view Aharon’s here!). It’s also a good idea to read reviews or ask your friends and family about their experiences.
Make positive choices: if your see animals performing or behaving unnaturally outside of their usual habitats, then it’s probably not a tourism experience you want to support.
Eat ethically: when trying local exotic foods, ask if the animal is rare or endangered, and avoid it! Not only is it unethical to eat these animals, it’s also often illegal.
Think before you buy: locally produced animal souvenirs can be a big driver in demand for illegal trade in wildlife, so think about how badly you want the trinket you’re buying.
Be considerate of local culture: it’s important to always be respectful of cultural differences when you travel but remember that culture is not an excuse for cruelty.