How to do wildlife tourism right

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Each year up to 4 million tourists visit places they can ride elephants, swim with dolphins or take selfies with tigers and orangutans. Continuous promotion by travel companies draws tourists in where they see attractions filled with happy looking animals. What they don’t see is the small enclosures, concrete floors, short chains and inadequate diets that are often the reality at many of these sites.

Discerning the differences between ethical and problematic wildlife experience is key to responsibly choosing animal related activities abroad. Before you travel, you can refer to the “five freedoms”, a set of internationally recognized standards.

Here are some tips to follow before your next adventure around wildlife:

  1. Research – Key for both travelers and travel companies. Look for facilities where animals have both adequate food and clean water. Consider reading the lowest rated reviews on TripAdvisor.
  2. Asses the space – Observe the animals environment and look out for words like “conservation” and “sanctuary”. You should be cautious if a facility uses these terms yet offers extensive interaction with the animals.
  3. Alarm Bells – Avoid visiting or promoting facilities with obviously injured animals. Interactive activities with wild animals is not natural, even for animals born in captivity.
  4. Stay Wild – Choosing facilities that offer the observation of animals in their natural environments is key! If visitors stop demanding interaction with animals, camps will adjust.

Your actions can make a difference! Read more here.