For a wild animal, being an entertainer is terrifying.
Halloween in the US is a time to revel in the fun that can be found in simple scares and harmless haunts. But thousands of wild animals are living in constant fear and pain to entertain tourists seeking a “once-in-a-lifetime” experience.
On the surface, watching dolphins dance at a marine park, riding an elephant through a nature trek, or posing for a selfie with a tiger cub may seem like harmless fun. But behind the scenes there is terror and torture.
1. Thousands of dolphins are suffering in captivity at marine parks, like SeaWorld and Miami Seaquarium.
Endless confinement. Rations of rotten fish. Violent behavior from fellow captives induced by confinement. Dolphins at marine parks endure a true nightmare. In 2013, the film Blackfish exposed audiences to the trauma these animals face, and yet companies continue to breed new dolphins and profit from their exploitation. As recently as July 2022 a US Department of Agriculture audit of Miami Seaquarium, one of the most notorious dolphin venues in the US, revealed the dolphins were chronically underfed and underweight. We will continue to fight to free them from their torment. Help us by joining the pod (don’t worry, it’s not the pod people).
2. Bears are forced to “dance” for tourists on hot metal sheets.
Bears are poached from the wild, illegally sold, and cruelly exploited for tourist entertainment. One such torture is called “bear dancing.” Brutally trained as cubs and having their claws painfully extracted, defenseless bears are forced to stand on hot metal sheets. To relieve the pain they hop from foot to foot, which can appear as though they are dancing to unknowing spectators. We’ve helped rescue dozens of bears from dancing and other cruel industries, rehoming them in sanctuaries where they can live in peace.
3. A short ride and cute vacation photo for you is decades of pain and misery for elephants.
In order to submit to human interactions, elephants are taken from their mothers as babies and forced through a horrific training process called “the crush” involving physical restraint, severe pain, and food and water deprivation. When they’re not giving rides or acquiescing to being bathed by strangers, they are typically chained the rest of the day and night, often kept on concrete floors in areas near loud music, busy roads, or noisy visitors. Elephants are incredibly social, but their chains prevent them from interacting freely with one another and cause substantial psychological damage. Learn how you can identify elephant friendly venues and help end the wildlife trade.
4. Death and devastation are rampant at roadside zoos and aquariums.
Roadside zoos and aquariums, even some that market themselves as sanctuaries for rescued animals, are captive wildlife venues that keep a variety of animals and may offer interactions, encounters, or meet-and-greets to their visitors. SeaQuest, for example, a chain of venues across the US, has a shocking record of documented animal deaths, including: a flying squirrel crushed to death in a door; a wallaby named Ben drowning in a water tank; Jelly, an otter, caught in the filtration system of a tank; an octopus cooked alive in a tank overnight. SeaQuest and other horrific sites are propped up by companies that promote their tickets and experiences to the public. You can help us push Groupon to commit to prohibit captive wildlife experiences from its deals and when looking for fun experiences while traveling use sites that have set animal welfare policies, like AirBnb.
5. Wild cats are chained, caged, and declawed to be props in photos.
Big cats, particularly tigers, are held at venues around the world for visitors to pose with in “once-in-a-lifetime” photos for their trip albums or social media accounts. The tigers spend most of their time chained up or sharing barren cages. They are forced to lie in direct sunshine to make them lethargic around visitors and have their teeth and claws removed, leading to lifelong health issues. The increasing popularity of tigers, especially after Netflix’s Tiger King series, is increasing captive breeding to provide more tiger cubs to venues. You can help prevent the exploitation of tigers and other big cats in the US by demanding your Senator pass the Big Cat Public Safety Act (the bill passed the House earlier this year!).
Halloween in the US is a time to revel in the fun that can be found in simple scares and harmless haunts. But thousands of wild animals are living in constant fear and pain to entertain tourists seeking a “once-in-a-lifetime” experience. These animals have a right to a wild life free from exploitation. Help us end their suffering.