Wildlife Friendly Holidays
When you’re on holiday it’s important that you consider the welfare of the animals and wildlife in the host country.
Born Free, an international wildlife charity working to prevent animal suffering and protect wildlife in the wild, have compiled a list of tips to help you have an animal friendly holiday.
Do not feed wild animals as this can have severe consequences for an animal’s welfare and also place yourself at risk.
Do not touch wild animals as you can unwittingly pass on diseases to wildlife, as well as placing yourself at risk.
Do not cross safety barriers or touch animal enclosures.
Do not smoke when close to animals.
Do not tease or provoke animals.
Do not shout or make loud noises when close to animals.
Do not drop litter or cigarette ends – this can cause fires and litter can harm wildlife.
Do not pick flowers or handle or collect animals or plants from their natural habitat.
Do not support the use of animals as photographic props ie do not have your photograph taken with an animal used specifically for this purpose (lion and tiger cubs, chimps, snakes and exotic birds). Many of these animals are drugged when photographed and then killed once they become too large to handle.
Do not support dancing bears. Removed from the wild when young, teeth and claws are removed, and their noses pierced with a ring or rope inserted for control. Training involves standing on a hot metal plate, while music is played. The bear then associates the music with the pain and ‘dances’ to avoid it.
Do not visit any circus that has animals. Circus animals suffer a life of constant travelling, inadequare “beast wagons”, deprivation and harsh training methods.
Avoid staying at hotels and eating at restaurants that display captive wild animals.
If the attraction allows controlled feeding/handling of animals ensure that your tour operator and the attraction makes you aware of the risks. These include:
Potential disease transmission between animals and humans (and vice versa)
Risk of injury
Potential stress to animals
Do not interact in any way with dangerous wild animals (e.g. lions, tigers, chimpanzees, gorillas, etc.) as wild animals are unpredictable and you will place yourself at great risk.
Do not buy souvenirs that are made out of wildlife products or other threatened natural materials eg coral, shells (marine or land), starfish, seahorses, wild animal skin/fur (handbags, belts, coats, drums etc), ivory, hard wood, bush meat, parts of wild animals (bones, feathers, quills, teeth, etc used in traditional medicines, good luck charms etc), tortoise shell, plant parts (seeds, roots, flower heads), orchids etc.
Specific to captive facilities
Please do not swim with captive dolphins. Although they may appear ‘happy’, captive dolphins suffer physically and psychologically. Injuries to humans are common and disease transmission is a risk.
Do not support animal performances where animals are trained to perform tasks that that have no basis in their natural behaviour eg humanised behaviour (riding bikes, smoking cigarettes, cleaning teeth etc), as these are unnatural, and involve substantially more training, which can have serious animal welfare implications.
Ask your tour operator/the attraction if any animals kept have been taken from the wild, as this places additional pressure on wild species.
Ask your tour operator/the attraction if there is an active education programme at the attraction, as responsible attractions provide this.
Ask your tour operator/the attraction if the attraction contributes to the conservation of animals in the wild, as responsible attractions take this seriously
Specific to animals in the wild
Do not encourage guides to move so close to wildlife that your presence disturbs it or interferes with its natural behaviour.
Do not encourage guides to pursue wildlife that is showing avoidance tactics e.g. displaying threatening/alarmed behaviour or is moving away.
Do not encourage guides to drive off-road in protected areas when this is prohibited in the protected area.
Speak quietly and do not make any sudden movements when close to wildlife so as not to alarm it.
When viewing primates (monkeys, gorillas, etc.) do not approach closer than 5 metres to help prevent the transmission of disease between humans and wildlife (and vice versa).
Do not approach breeding sites (nests, burrows, dens, etc.) as this can affect the breeding success of wildlife.
Try to avoid the use of flash photography to take photos of wildlife can alarm it leading to increased aggression.
For marine wildlife, when contact with animals is permitted and controlled e.g. in swim-with dolphin experiences, do not approach the animals but allow them instead to approach you if they so choose.
If you are able, put something back into the conservation of the area/wildlife you have visited by making a personal contribution to support conservation in the area.