World Animal Protection has called for an end to worldwide “irresponsible wildlife tourism” that sees at least half a million animals suffer for the sake of entertainment.
Labelling the animal attractions as “holiday horrors”, the group has released a report outlining the 10 most cruel wildlife tourism attractions.
1. Riding elephants
With a process of training known as “the crush”, elephants are made to submit into giving rides to tourists, World Animal Protection said. This often involves restraining the baby elephant in small cages and tying them with ropes or chains and beating them with a bull hook, the organisation said.
2. Taking tiger selfies
World Animal Protection said tiger cubs were taken from their mothers from a young age so they could be used as “photo props” for hours on end, handled and hugged by tourists and often kept chained to concrete floors or small cages. In Thailand the organisation found 10 venues housing 614 tigers. Tiger tourism is prevalent in Thailand, other parts of Asia, Australia, Mexico and Argentina.
3. Walking with lions
According to World Animal Protection, lion cubs are bred and taken away from their mothers within a month to supply the growing lion tourism industry. When cubs grow too big they are used for relatively new walking-with-lions tourist experiences where handlers walk the lions on leads.
4. Visiting bear parks
Bears are kept in often overcrowded pits, which can be a stressful situation, World Animal Protection said. Some bears are also forced to perform circus tricks.
5. Holding sea turtles
Holding a sea turtle can cause stress to the animal and weaken its immune system, making it more susceptible to disease, the organisation said.
6. Performing dolphins
The United States was one of several countries to ban dolphins being taken from the wild for entertainment, World Animal Protection said in its report. The dolphins spend their lives in a small space, restrictive compared to their natural open sea environment. Many dolphins also face stress-related illnesses and can suffer from heart attacks and gastric ulcers.
7. Dancing monkeys
Many species of primates are being used as street entertainment. World Animal Protections said it uncovered 290 macaques housed in venues offering shows in Thailand. Monkeys are trained to walk and behave more human from an early age. When they are not performing, they are often chained.
8. Touring civet cat coffee plantations
The Civets are used to create civet coffee or Kopi Luwak, which goes for up to $100 per cup.
Kopi Luwak is made from beans within the cherries that the civets excrete in pellets. While no cruelty is involved when pellets are collected in the wild, in an effort to produce more coffee, farmers have started catching the civets and feeding them berries, the report said. The force feeding often results in injuries, disease and poor nutrition. Tourists can visit plantations, see the animals and taste the coffee.
9. Charming snakes and kissing cobras
The practise has been seen on streets for hundreds of years. Cobras are captured in the wild and defanged, using metal pliers, or their venom ducts are blocked which can cause painful infections.
10. Farming crocodiles
Crocodile farming involves keeping large numbers of crocodiles on farms and intensively breeding to supply the fashion industry with their skins and also for meat.