World Animal Protection urges TripAdvisor to stop profiting from the world's cruellest animal attractions

Travel site fails to take action, despite repeated calls from organization

TORONTO, April 25, 2016 /CNW/ - TripAdvisor is promoting and profiting from some of the world's cruellest wildlife tourist attractions, reveals global animal welfare organization World Animal Protection.

World Animal Protection estimates that at least 550,000 wild animals are suffering at the hands of irresponsible wildlife tourist attractions around the world, many of which are promoted and sold via TripAdvisor to its 300 million visitors each month.

Tourists who are buying tickets to ride elephants, handle sea turtles, watch dolphin performances, and take tiger 'selfies', via the world's largest travel site, are usually unaware of the abuse and suffering the animals experience in these venues.

Despite TripAdvisor previously stating that they were "open to finding ways in which we can help travellers gain a better understanding of animal welfare and conservation practices," TripAdvisor has so far failed to take any action even though World Animal Protection has made numerous attempts to work with the company.

The animals at cruel wildlife tourist attractions are often taken from their mothers, beaten and endure ongoing abuse during training to make them submissive enough to interact with tourists. They are then chained or kept in barren cages for the rest of their lives, a far cry from the freedom of their natural habitats.

TripAdvisor states that the listings on its website do not represent any form of endorsement by the company, instead providing a platform for travellers to share their positive or negative opinions. Yet, contrary to its claim of 'impartiality', TripAdvisor ranks and rewards cruel venues through its Popularity Index and Certificate of Excellence program, boosting their website presence and reinforcing their popularity with potential travellers.

World Animal Protection proposed to TripAdvisor the following changes:

  • Stop sales of tickets to cruel wildlife attractions, such as those sold via subsidiary company Viator
  • Stop cruel attractions from receiving a Certificate of Excellence
  • Stop cruel attractions from being ranked in their Popularity Index
  • Introduce a WildlifeLeaders program based on TripAdvisor's existing GreenLeaders program, helping users to make informed choices and encouraging businesses to implement better welfare and conservation standards for animals.

Josey Kitson, Executive Director at World Animal Protection Canada, says:

"TripAdvisor is hugely influential and has a critical role to play in helping to end the cruel abuse of wild animals in tourism.  We know people want to see wild animals, but they need to be aware of the suffering that goes on behind the scenes and make better, animal-friendly choices. TripAdvisor has an important role to play in educating tourists and highlighting animal-friendly venues, where wild animals can roam free and there is no direct contact between tourists and animals."

"Eight out of ten tourists leave positive reviews for cruel wildlife attractions on TripAdvisor because they don't see the abuse. It's time TripAdvisor started educating tourists on wildlife-friendly venues."

World Animal Protection is asking the public to help by signing its petition to call on TripAdvisor to act responsibly and stop profiting from cruelty.

Note to editors    

  • Link to a previous statement by Trip Advisor to Australian Broadcasting Corporation news outlet: "We believe it is important to ensure all attractions a traveller could visit are listed on the site so that they can share their personal experiences," a TripAdvisor spokesman said.

  • "We are open to finding ways in which we can help travellers gain a better understanding of animal welfare and conservation practices," the spokesman said.

  • Research into wildlife tourism by University of Oxford's Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU) included analysis of TripAdvisor, to better understand the awareness levels of tourists visiting these wildlife venues. Of the 50,000 reviews examined, the study revealed that 80% of people left positive reviews for venues with poor animal welfare

SOURCE World Animal Protection

Video with caption: "Video: Wild animal attractions aren’t what they appear. Help stop the cruel exploitation of wild animals.". Video available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qAKIPgpnEkY&feature=youtu.be

Image with caption: "A tiger cub kept on a chain and used as a prop for photographs with tourists. World Animal Protection believes that animals should stay in the wild and not be used for entertainment. © World Animal Protection (CNW Group/World Animal Protection)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20160425_C1367_PHOTO_EN_674150.jpg

Image with caption: "World Animal Protection (CNW Group/World Animal Protection)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20160425_C1367_PHOTO_EN_674152.jpg

For further information: For an interview or images contact Beth Sharpe at 416-369-0044 x111 or bethsharpe@worldanimalprotection.ca

RELATED LINKS
www.worldanimalprotection.ca

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