NEW YORK, April 25, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- TripAdvisor is promoting and profiting from some of the world's cruelest 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.
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 when young. They are beaten and endure ongoing physical and psychological abuse during training to make them submissive enough to give rides, perform tricks, or pose for vacation 'selfies' 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 travelers 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 travelers.
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 its 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.
"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, similar to the way it promotes eco-friendly accommodations through its GreenLeaders program."
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 TripAdvisor 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.
TripAdvisor Inc. acquired Viator, the global leader in online bookings for attractions, to the TripAdvisor network of sites in 2014.
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 wildlife venues. Of the 50,000 reviews examined, the study revealed that 80% of people left positive reviews for venues with poor animal welfare.
As tourism continues to grow, we estimate that approximately 110 million people visit cruel wildlife tourist attractions each year, unaware of the animal abuse involved.
Using the WildCRU research ratings and our own research and investigations in Asia and Africa, World Animal Protection has compiled a list of ten of the world's cruelest wildlife attractions:
Taking tiger selfies
Walking with lions
Visiting bear parks
Holding sea turtles
Touring civet cat coffee plantations
Charming snakes and kissing cobras
World Animal Protection is building a global movement to put wildlife protection on the global agenda and reduce the tourist demand for cruel animal entertainment attractions. Find out more via this link.