From: National Geographic
How to do wildlife tourism right
Here are our guidelines for ethical animal encounters.
Photo: At Elephant Valley Thailand, outside Chiang Rai, tourists observe the animals from a safe distance. BY KIRSTEN LUCE
TRAVELERS LOVE ANIMALS. We want to get close to them and learn more about them. But the reality that many tourists don’t see is that to stay in business, animal encounters, such as elephant rides and photo ops with tigers, rely on putting wild creatures to work.
Discerning the difference between ethical and problematic wildlife experiences is among the thorny issues addressed in National Geographic magazine’s feature story “Suffering unseen: The dark truth behind wildlife tourism.” For visitors to environments ranging from zoos to national parks, it can be especially difficult to determine how to observe animals humanely. To assess how facilities treat captive animals, you can refer to the “five freedoms”—internationally recognized standards inspired by a 1965 U.K. government report. Consider these tips before your next wild adventure: