How to recognise
You recognise a bad elephant camp by the fact that the elephants are kept on chains when they’re not at work. The elephants aren’t allowed to move freely and can’t get to each other. The young elephants have to work just as many hours as their mothers and are attached to their mothers with a rope. You can also see a discolouring on the elephant’s skin where it’s been abused. There are daily shows and the elephants have to work all day, every day. You can also spot mistreatment by the fact that saddles are being used for the elephant rides, as these are very bad for an elephant’s back. In better camps the elephants are kept on longer ropes and you sit on their necks. This still isn’t good for them, but it’s better than a saddle. If a ride on an elephant is included in your trip, you should pay to sit in the neck instead of on the saddle, and ask if the saddle can be removed. You can also walk beside the elephant. Show the owner that you’re prepared to pay for proper treatment of the elephant.
Recently, travel organisation Thomas Cook announced that they will stop offering trips to animals parks that keep killer whales. Locked up killer whales are extremely unhappy and can get very aggressive in captivity. This news was made public worldwide in the documentary Blackfish, which showed just how unhappy and aggressive killer whales can get in captivity. By no longer offering these trips, travel organisations hope that killer whales will no longer be captured and will be released into the wild.
In South Africa, barbary macaques are captured in the wild to use for pictures with tourists. Because so many of them are captured in the name of tourism, the monkeys are actually threatened with extinction. Don’t take pictures with the macaques and don’t pay any people who have such a monkey. If every tourist stops paying for animal cruelty, it will stop in the end.
What can you do?
Step one is to not participate in animal cruelty. Don’t pay people who exploit animals and don’t take photos with captive animals or ride on them. If every single tourist would stop doing this, it will no longer be lucrative and the animal cruelty will end. Donate money to animal welfare organisations or visit animal sanctuaries during your trips abroad. Do extensive research before you go on a trip and use your common sense. Don’t buy products that are made out of exotic animals and boycot entertainment at the expensive of animals. Also leave stray animals alone. You might mean well when you give them food or water, but when you are back home again, no one takes care of them. A better idea would be to contact the local animal protection services.
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