US-based travel and restaurant company, TripAdvisor, has announced that along with its subsidiary Viator, it will no longer sell tickets to shows or exhibits that use endangered or wild animals for entertainment.
In a press release, the company stated, “TripAdvisor will not sell tickets to, or generate booking revenue from, specific experiences where captive wild or endangered animals are forced to perform demeaning tricks or other unnatural behaviours in front of the general public, or where they are featured as part of a live circus or stage entertainment act in a demeaning manner.”
The company defines “demeaning” as situations whereby the animal involved is either drugged or forcibly trained to perform in a way that does not benefit the animal. Circus acts are notorious for the use of abusive methods in order to force captive animals to perform unnatural behaviors.
“The changes we’ve announced today reflect our ongoing commitment to help drive positive change within the tourism industry. Tourist activities have a huge impact on wild animals around the world, and while that impact can often be positive, such as helping to fund important conservation efforts, it can be negative too,” said Sally Davey, Head of Industry Relations.
“We hope that, by making it clearer which kinds of experiences we are willing to sell on TripAdvisor and which we are not, we can push suppliers to adopt better animal welfare practices in the experiences they offer.”
The company further clarified that certain animal encounters will still be permitted under the TripAdvisor animal welfare policy. Horseback riding, petting zoos with domestic animals, aquarium and invertebrae “touch” encounters for “educational purposes,” feeding interactions (as long as the animal is not forced to comply and can “disengage from contact at will”), voluntourism for endangered species, and some fishing excursions are still permitted.
The new policies add further clarity to the company’s 2016 decision to halt sales of tickets to events that rely on animal exploitation, such as elephant rides, tiger meet-and-greets, dolphin swim experiences, and other exotic animal encounters. The company isn’t alone in its decision to stand up to the abuse perpetrated by industries relying on animals for entertainment. Last year, New York City, Italy, and India all voted to ban the use of wild animals in circuses.