Some people dream of swimming with dolphins or riding an elephant, but these bucket list goals often come at the cost of harming the animal. Tourist attractions offering these activities sometimes drug, beat, or isolate the creatures into submission—and TripAdvisor has had enough. As National Geographic reports, the travel website announced this week that they will stop selling tickets to venues that are known for animal cruelty. They’ll also team up with advocacy groups to build a portal to teach tourists about humane wildlife treatment.
"TripAdvisor's new booking policy and education effort is designed as a means to do our part in helping improve the health and safety standards of animals, especially in markets with limited regulatory protections," said TripAdvisor president and CEO Stephen Kaufer in an official statement.
Earlier this year, the company—which runs the Viator booking service—told National Geographic's Wildlife Watch that it “wasn’t TripAdvisor's place” to guide web users’ ethical choices. Now, they've changed their mind. Their policy overhaul was prompted by a long-term protest campaign launched by animal welfare group World Animal Protection. They highlighted TripAdvisor’s affiliations with wildlife tourist venues known for questionable practices, and argued that using these animals for visitors’ enjoyment results in psychological and physical harm for the creatures. (National Geographic’s Wildlife Watch, along with other media outlets, have also reported on TripAdvisor’s affiliation with these businesses.)
The travel company will stop selling tickets to a few of the offending outlets right away, and by early 2017 they will have cut ties with all of them. These include attractions that offer elephant rides, dolphin swims, and chances to get up close and personal with tigers, among others. (According to NPR, Viator claims it doesn’t offer travel bookings that involve blood sport, and TripAdvisor already prohibits reviews for places that allow bullfights or captive hunts.) Around this time, TripAdvisor will also launch its wildlife education portal.
Not all activities involving wildlife are banned, though: TripAdvisor will grant exemptions for horseback riding, petting zoos, aquariums, zoos, or ethical nature sanctuaries.
[h/t National Geographic]
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