Many Canadians are travelling abroad this March Break – some for the first time in two years since the global pandemic first hit – and non-profit World Animal Protection is reminding travellers to avoid “harmful animal tourism” activities during their trips.
Whether staying home or visiting an international destination, the organization wants Canadians to be aware of wildlife protection efforts when engaging with all forms of tourism.
"We know these businesses have a long history of problematic animal practices," said Melissa Matlow, campaign director for World Animal Protection Canada. "We are working with the travel industry on moving away from inhumane and unsafe animal tourism and towards more sustainable animal-friendly experiences."
World Animal Protection has worked with several companies, including G Adventures, Intrepid, The Travel Corporation and World Expeditions, to implement animal welfare policies.
The organization has also shared the following tips on how to check if a venue is a true sanctuary for animals, as well as best practices to be animal-friendly while travelling:
- DON'T take selfies with wild animals. DO take lots of photos of wildlife from a respectful distance.
- DON'T ride an elephant. DO observe elephants at a sanctuary, on a webcam or in the wild.
- DON'T swim with dolphins. DO see dolphins in the wild with a responsible tour operator.
“Sure, a 'selfie' with a dolphin could be considered a once-in-a-lifetime experience but consider the impacts on those animals – a lifetime of suffering,” World Animal Protection said in a news release on March 11. “Animals in these types of captive environments often present psychological signs of distress. They were never meant to live in small aquariums, isolated from others of their species.”
If staying at home, World Animal Protection has partnered with wildlife filmmaker and conservationist Julian Victor, for tips on how to spot wildlife safely and respectfully – even in busy cities.
Parks and public gardens are “great places” to spot wildlife but even bustling urban areas are full of animals, the organization said.
“Don't forget to look up! Buildings, street signs, trees and lamp posts are favourite hangouts for squirrels, hawks and even vultures and owls.”
Also, “pick your time of day strategically,” the organization says.
“Most animals prefer cooler and quieter periods during the day. The best time to spot wildlife is early morning or late evening.”
Visit worldanimalprotection.ca for more info.