Selfie or selfish? Our stance on animal welfare

Last updated: Apr 15th, 2019

Travel is an extraordinary thing. It opens up a world of new places to discover, different cultures to experience and interesting food to try. And part of travelling is getting up close to wildlife, but sometimes our furry friends aren’t always happy about this.

Whilst the safety of our groups is of the utmost importance to us, so is the welfare of the animals we encounter. With more and more people showing an interest in where travel companies stand on animal welfare, we thought we’d share our stance.


Where we stand on animal welfare

We’re proud to not promote or organise any excursions involving animals that are classified as unacceptable or discouraged practices according to ABTA’s Global Welfare Guidance for Animals in Tourism Best Practice Handbook.

This means that we don’t offer excursions involving animals in captive attractions, such as circus shows with non-natural behavioural performances, cultural events or those involving free-roaming wild animals which include human-initiated physical interaction with wild animals, such as elephants, crocodiles or dolphins.

We do still offer excursions involving working animals – such as horse riding and camel riding, and certified centres including zoos and conservation centres or sanctuaries – but only when we’ve evaluated the level of animal welfare using the principles of the ‘Five Freedoms’ detailed in the Welfare Quality® criteria.


Don’t be fooled

Take a selfie with a tiger! Swim with dolphins! Ride an elephant! These are common signs you’ll see advertised around the world in a bid to lure tourists in. But what you don’t see are the unnatural undertones behind these activities.

Tigers are often drugged to remain ‘relaxed’. Dolphins may be kept in captivity. Elephants are in pain from bearing such heavy weight for long periods of time and often controlled using bullhooks. Simply put, the selfie isn’t worth it. Even seemingly innocent activities, such as feeding or bathing elephants, are just as problematic because it’s all in excess – leading to an unnatural, unhealthy and unhappy lifestyle. It’s too much of one thing that actually causes more harm than good.

We encourage you to not participate in such activities. We don’t know how these animals are treated or the conditions they’re kept in, and visiting these venues encourages a cycle of cruelty.


Learn through observation, not interaction

Whilst it’s tempting to pet a tiger like you would your dog, it’s not the way to go. You’ll actually learn more about these animals through observation, not interaction. You’ll discover their behaviour, their movement, their responses. And with that, their intelligence. It’s all about bringing you to them, not the other way around, so you can observe them in their natural environment.


Help keep wild animals wild

They’re called wild animals for a reason, and sadly tourism plays a part in taking that away. But by choosing a travel operator that doesn’t offer any excursions that exploits animals, you’re helping to create less of a demand for such activities.

The world is an extraordinary place and so are the animals that inhabit it. So let’s help protect them. Help them live naturally. Help keep them wild.