Activities with animals to avoid during your holidays

Activities with animals to avoid during your holidays

This is summertime and you might want to travel to a country where you would be able to see and touch wild animals. However, most of of the time, these animals are abused for our entertainment. You will find here a list of the 10 most cruel activities with wild animals to absolutely avoid and some alternatives instead.

dessins animaux

Drawing with felt-tip pens, Bertille.

World Animal Protectionan international nonprofit animal welfare organization believes at least 550,000 wild animals are suffering at the hands of irresponsible tourist attractions around the world.

Also, the animal welfare group estimates that about 110 million people visit wildlife tourist attractions each year, unaware of the animal abuse often involved.

The Wildlife Conservation Research UNit (WildCRU) from Oxford University published in 2015 a study listing activities with animals to avoid. Researchers made the list based on the five liberties of animal:

  • Not suffering of hunger or thirst.
  • Not being victim of discomfort.
  • Not suffering from injuries or diseases.
  • The ability to express a natural behavior for the species.
  • No being afraid or in distress.

With these results, World Animal Protection established a list of the 10 attractions most awful for animals:


1/ Riding elephants:


The global tourist hotspot for elephant rides is Thailand, although it is prevalent in other Asian countries. It has also emerged in Southern Africa over the past ten years.

To make elephants submit to giving rides, they are taken from their mothers when babies and forced through a horrific training process known as ‘the crush’. This typically involves restraining them in a small cage, or tying them in ropes or chains so that they can only move when commanded. Severe pain is often inflicted with pointed metal ‘bull hooks’ or wooden battens to quickly establish dominance.

The training process can last between 4 and 6 long days. This process ‘breaks’ the young elephant’s spirit so they will accept people riding on their back or other direct contact between tourists and elephants.


This pic is full of violence but we are not this elephant… Source :

Approximately 50 % of elephants die during this training.

What can you do on site or from home?

  • If someone offers you an elephant ride, you should answer” No” to them.
  • If one of your friends insists to go on an elephant ride, you should say “No” and explain the reasons to them.
  • Spread the word to your relatives. Education is our best chance to stop this activity.
  • Share videos and posts dealing with the elephant rides as this video.  This one is particularly shocking, but this is only the sad reality:


Source video :


2/Selfies with tigers:


Tiger cubs are separated from their mothers at an early age so they can be used as photo props for hours on end. They are handled and hugged by tourists and typically kept chained or in small cages with concrete floors.

In Thailand, there are 10 venues housing around 614 tigers. Although Thailand is a hub of cruel tiger tourism it is also prevalent in other parts of Asia, Australia, Mexico and Argentina.

Une des plus grandes attractions en Thaïlande se trouvait être le Temple aux tigres, sensé être un lieu de pèlerinage… Les touristes pouvaient jusqu’à présent accéder au temple et participer à certaines activités comme : donner le biberon à un bébé tigre, toucher le pelage d’un tigre, entrer dans la cage des fauves.

One of the major attractions in Thailand was the Tigers temple. It was recently closed because authorities discovered 40 frozen baby tigers bodies. I am sharing here the picture that wastaken of these babies to alert about this problem.

tigres congelés




3/Holding sea turtles:


Holding a sea turtle causes it to suffer a great deal of stress which can weaken its immune system and increase its susceptibility to disease.

When handled by tourists, they often panic and intensively flap their flippers which can cause fractures and detached claws. It has also been known for tourists to accidentally drop struggling sea turtles. This can cause significant injury, like a broken shell, which can kill the turtle.

The world’s last remaining sea turtle farm that acts as a tourist attraction is in the Cayman Islands. Here, tourists can hold turtles and even eat them during their visit.

Recently, some tourists disturbed sea turtles on Costa Rica’s beaches by jumping on them and taking selfies with them.

If you see this kind of behavior, you should immediately alert authorities. Also, if a sea turtle seems in danger to you (or any marine mammals), here are a few steps to follow:

  • Call emergency.
  • Do not touch the animal.
  • Put some water on the animal in order to avoid dehydration while waiting for the emergency to arrive.




4/Crocodiles-gators farms:


Crocodile farming involves large numbers of crocodiles being kept on farms and intensively bred – mainly to supply the fashion industry with their skins, but also for their meat. People come to see the crocodiles then eat them in on-site restaurants.

The conditions on the farms are often so appalling that they can actually kill the crocodiles. The animals are usually housed in concrete pits and conditions are often severely overcrowded and unhygienic.

Crocodiles are very sensitive to stress. And severely stressful situations can lead to septicemia. If a crocodile remains in a stressful environment, it may not be able to fight the infection and fatal diseases can develop.

Because of competition for limited space in the pits, and also for food and water, the crocodiles will fight each other, sometimes to the death. They also rip off one another’s legs – such serious injuries can eventually kill them too.


Source:  Neil D’Cruze/World Animal Protection


5/Dancing monkeys:


Many species of primates are used for street entertainment but the the association has also uncovered the systematic abuse of 290 macaques housed in venues offering macaque shows in Thailand.

Young macaques are trained aggressively and painfully, to make them walk, behave and appear more human. They are often dressed up to look like geishas and repeatedly forced to dance and perform tricks for groups of tourists.

When they’re not performing, the macaques are often kept chained in small barren cages or outside on short chains. As the macaque grows, the chain can become embedded in the skin leading to painful infections and disease.


Source : Neil D’Cruze/World Animal Protection


 6/Touring civet coffee plantations:


A single cup of civet coffee or Kopi Luwak, fetches up to $50. Civets love to eat coffee cherries and Kopi Luwak coffee is made from the beans within the cherries that the civets excrete in pellets.

When the pellets are collected from civets in the wild, no cruelty is involved. But in an attempt to produce more civet coffee, farmers have started catching the civets and keeping them in small, crowded barren cages. Caged civets are encouraged to gorge on an unbalanced diet of coffee cherries.

This unnatural captivity and forced feeding results in injuries, disease and poor nutrition. Many show signs of great stress, including pacing and self-mutilation.

There is now a growing civet coffee plantation tourism industry in Indonesia where tourists visit caged civet cats and sample the coffee. This is causing more and more civets to be caged and abused.


Source: Neil D’Cruze/World Animal Protection


7/Walking with lions:


Lion cubs are bred and taken from their mothers typically within a month of birth to supply the growing lion tourism industry, mostly located in Southern Africa.

Tourists handle the cubs for hours and pose with them for photos. They are also often told to hit the cubs if they display aggressive or unwelcome behavior.

When the cubs grow too big for tourists to pick up and hug, but are still young enough to control, some are used for the relatively new walking with lions tourist experience. The lions are trained to ‘safely’ walk with tourists, sometimes on leads.

These lions face a lifetime in captivity as they cannot be released into the wild.


Source: Neil D’Cruze/World Animal Protection


8/Visiting bear parks:


Bears are kept in sterile pits. These pits are severely overcrowded. Bears are mainly solitary in the wild so this overcrowding can also lead to infighting and nasty injuries.

The stress associated with these captive conditions can increase the susceptibility of wild animals to diseases caused by bacterial infections.

Sometimes these bears are also forced to dress as clowns and perform circus tricks such as riding a bike or balancing on a ball.


Source: Neil D’Cruze/World Animal Protection


9/Charming snakes and kissing cobras:


Snake charming has been a street entertainment activity for hundreds of years, and the latest twist on this includes kissing a cobra in Thailand.

Cobras are commonly used for performing even though they are venomous and their bites can be fatal to humans. The cobras are usually captured from the wild, then they are defanged with metal pliers and their venom ducts are either blocked or removed, often with un-sanitised equipment. This often results in painful infections, and can kill the cobras.


Source: Neil D’Cruze/World Animal Protection


10/Performing dolphins (or orcas):


Millions of tourists visit dolphinarium, but they are unaware of the cruelty and abuses the dolphins endure to perform in shows.

Dolphins are often chased by high-speed boats before being hauled on board or caught in nets. For many, the stress is too much to take and they die during transportation to their intended destinations.

Those kept in dolphinarium, whether wild caught or captive bred, face a lifetime of suffering:

  • They spend their entire lives in a space not much bigger than a swimming pool, which is completely unnatural and restrictive compared to their natural open sea environment.
  • The pools are often treated with chlorine which can cause painful skin and eye irritations.
  • Pool-bound dolphins often suffer from sunburn because they can’t escape to the ocean depths.
  • Their highly tuned echolocation, used for navigating, is interfered with by the level-sided tanks which are so unlike the rocks and corals which form their natural ocean landmarks.
  • Many dolphins also face stress-related illnesses and can suffer from heart attacks and gastric ulcers.


Source: WSPA/ Liivaar.


To sum up…


The first thing to do before organizing any activity with a wild animal would be to inform yourself.

Then, trust your judgement, and if anyone offers you an activity with a wild animal, say”no” and share it with all the persons around you.

Thanks in advance for your vigilance!

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