close-up of a tiger

eyes of the tiger

We've all seen pictures of people we know at animal attractions. Whether it be on a family holiday or a gap year, animals are used to entertain tourists all over the world.

While the cruelty of these attractions wasn't widely known for a long time, people are now starting to look into the facts behind the shows and finding out some pretty shocking truths.

According to a new study written by experts from Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU) and commissioned by World Animal Protection, three out of four wildlife tourist attractions involve “some form of abuse or raise conservation concerns",

At least 550,000 wild animals suffer “at the hands of irresponsible tourist attractions" that attract 110 million people each year.

Knowledge is power, so we've put together a list of ten popular tourist attractions that you should never fund or attend.

1 Riding elephants

Elephant ride.

Elephant ride.

One of the most common gap year experiences, riding elephants is far more damaging than people see.

Elephants are taken from their mothers at a young age and 'broken' through being kept in small cages with no space for movement, as well as being inflicted to severe pain with pointed metal hooks or wooden battens.

Once an elephant is broken, it is kept for rides and prevented from making relationships with any other elephants.

2 Tiger selfies

tiger-temple-selfie-1

Tiger selfies are so popular with young tourists that there is now a Tumblr set up specifically to show 'Tinder Tiger Selfies.'

While the true harm that tiger selfies cause is becoming a lot more widely recognised, some people still believe that a photo will not cause harm to the animals.

These tigers are often snatched from the wild as cubs and kept in poor conditions. Money that is made from the photos rarely goes towards animal welfare and its thought that for every one tiger that is helped through this trade, around 50 more are harmed.

Many of the photos that people have with the animals, are taken while the tigers are heavily drugged and under sedation, a practice that may happen to them each and every day.

3 Walking with lions

istock_74259989_small

istock_74259989_small

Walking with Lions is a fairly new trend that has grown in worrying numbers of the last few years.

Captive lions that are used for tourists to pick and photograph as cubs, become too large after a certain age to be used anymore and so are sold for these walking tours.

These walking tours, while maintaining the facade of conservation are quickly being proven to be linked to canned lion hunting and forced breeding programs.

4) Bear parks

bear_worldanimalprotection_623

bear_worldanimalprotection_623

Bears are kept in small, unsanitary cages, without any space to room and without any contact with other animals.

In many bear parks over the world, bears are trained to perform circus tricks and dress up in costumes through painful and cruel training methods.

Many bears who live at these parks die very early from infections caused by their unsanitary living conditions.

5) Holding sea turtles

the-guide-holding-a-turtle

Many tourists pick up sea turtles as part of  scuba diving and snorkelling experiences, inspired by the many photographs of people doing similarly online.

In truth, picking up a sea turtle causes major distress and will cause them to try to escape through flapping their fins in order to be dropped. It's thought that thousands of sea turtles obtain life threatening injuries and die each year through this practice.

6) Performing dolphins

Three dolphins jumping at a show

Three Dolphins jumping

Since the documentary Blackfish brought attention to the organisation Sea World, people's opinions towards whale and dolphin shows have changed, with attendance dropping dramatically, however most shows have not yet been shut down.

Captive show dolphins usually live in a tank no bigger than a swimming pool in such bad conditions that they regularly die from disease and infection.

One of the most intelligent animals on the planet, it has been proven that mental and emotional stress and sadness that this captive life gives the animals often kills them, through stress related illness, severe depression and in some cases, suspected suicide.

7) Dancing monkeys

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istock_23732398_small

Trained monkeys are often seen in large cities in Thailand.  Their owners teach them to behave more human, using bikes, dressing in clothes and using human mannerisms.

A purely money making show, the animals are usually trapped when they're young and permanently kept on chains and in small cages when away from the public eye.

8) Touring civet coffee plantations

civet-coffee-in-indonesia-1

"Civet’ coffee – made from the coffee ‘cherries’ (fruits) that civets eat and then excrete in pellets."

The plantations that produce these 'coffee beans' are now known to often capture civets and keep them in terrible farming conditions, which cause illness and often lead to the civets self-mutilating themselves.

Many plantations host tours where unknowing visitors can see the plants and the caged animals, before trying the coffee.

9) Snake Charming

An Indian cobra, mesmerised by the sound and swaying of its owner, spreads its hood in reaction. Snake charming is a dying art in India but tourists provide an important lifeline.

Snake charmer in Jaipur, India

An age old tradition, snake charming has been round the centuries, however the latest twist on the spectacle is to 'kiss the cobra.'

Snakes who are trained to kiss their charmers have their fangs and venom removed at an early age and usually die from infection related illnesses.

10) Crocodile Farming

The crocodiles in zoo and farm for tour in Thailand, photo in outdoor sunny lighting.

The crocodiles in zoo

Crocodile farms, where animals are killed for their skin and meat have been around for years. Much like battery farmed chickens in the UK, the crocodiles are kept in terrible, cramped conditions and often die from disease before they reach slaughter.

A worrying new trend is for tourists to visit these farms to see the animals, before sitting down to a meal on the property, most of the time with little knowledge of the true conditions in which the crocodiles are being kept.

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