TripAdvisor no longer will sell tickets to wildlife attractions and animal tourism entertainment that is deemed cruel to animals.
The company says such activities include experiences “where travelers come into physical contact with captive wild animals or endangered species.” Examples include:
- Riding elephants
- Petting tigers
- Swimming with dolphins
TripAdvisor recently announced the change in the booking policy for both its site and its booking service, Viator, as a “commitment to improve wildlife welfare standards in tourism.”
The travel website says the policy change will impact “hundreds of animal attractions” where tourists have physical contact with captive wild animals or endangered species. These include but aren’t limited to elephant rides, petting tigers and swimming with dolphins — activities that animal welfare groups allege cause severe physical and psychological damage to animals.
The new policy is expected to make the biggest difference in regions of the world with “limited regulatory protections” for animals.
TripAdvisor also plans to create a wildlife tourism education portal on its website.
According to The New York Times, TripAdvisor’s announcement comes after six months of consulting with animal welfare groups including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), Global Wildlife Conservation and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, among others.
Stephen Kaufer, president and CEO of TripAdvisor, says in a statement:
“TripAdvisor’s leadership position in travel means we can help educate millions of travelers about the diverse opinions that exist on matters of animal welfare. We believe the end result of our efforts will be enabling travelers to make more thoughtful choices about whether to visit an animal attraction and to write more meaningful reviews about those attractions.”
Although ticket sales to some animal attractions will cease immediately, the policy and new wildlife education portal won’t be implemented by TripAdvisor until early 2017.
TripAdvisor’s policy change will not impact animal tourism activities such as horseback riding, children’s petting zoos and animal sanctuaries.
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