If you can touch, ride or feed a wild animal while on vacation, it’s most likely cruel.
Wherever you decide to go, always remember to research before paying for an animal experience.
While we most likely can’t travel due to the pandemic, many of us are already thinking of our future vacation plans. Before you book that swimming with dolphins experience or elephant riding activity, here are 5 reasons why you shouldn’t touch wild animals on vacation.
Their needs can’t be met in captivity.
No matter the conditions, captive environments can never replicate an animal’s natural environment. Animals in captivity are forced to endure unnatural conditions and suffer as a result. Bottlenose dolphins often have natural home ranges exceeding 100 km2 (38.61 mi2) with some populations’ home ranges in excess of 400 km2 (154.44mi2). In captivity, the average size of a dolphin tank is just 444 m2 (4779.761 ft2) – a space slightly larger than an IMAX theater screen. Compared to the wild, that’s 200,000 times smaller than their natural home range.
Wild animals are still wild even when in captivity. They can be unpredictable and potentially dangerous. In 2010, Tilikum, an orca held in captivity at SeaWorld, killed his trainer, Dawn Brancheau, by drowning her. After the Oscar-nominated film, Blackfish, focused on her death and the cruelty orcas face in captivity, SeaWorld ended its orca breeding program.
However, this isn’t the first instance where captive wild animals have killed people. Tyke, an elephant used in circuses, killed her trainer and seriously injured her groomer while the circus was performing in Honolulu in 1994. She was subsequently killed after running through the streets of the city. When it comes to interacting closely with animals, there will always be a safety risk.
Luckily, there are still ways to enjoy the company of animals when traveling without contributing to their suffering. You can support companies such as Airbnb which is strictly wildlife-friendly and offer opportunities such as watching dolphins from the wild or observing wild animals from a distance on safari... You can also visit ethical elephant sanctuaries such as ChangChill and Following Giants in Thailand.