- Charity claims US-based travel reviews site is promoting animal cruelty
- World Animal Protection wants TripAdvisor to stop listing the attractions
- TripAdvisor says it is not endorsing establishments on its site
- The charity says 550,000 animals are suffering at tourist attractions
An international animal welfare charity has accused TripAdvisor of ‘profiting from the world’s cruelest animal attractions’.
World Animal Protection claims that the US-based travel reviews is promoting and profiting from attractions such as elephant rides by continuing to feature their listings, despite repeated efforts by the charity to find alternative solutions.
However, TripAdvisor has told MailOnline Travel that listing an attraction does not represent their ‘endorsement of that establishment’ and that tours booked through its subsidiary, Viator, go through a pre-screening process.
World Animal Protection has accused TripAdvisor of promoting and profiting from animal cruelty by listing activities such as animal rides
World Animal Protection set out the allegations in a statement released on April 25.
According to the statement, at least 550,000 wild animals are estimated to be suffering in ‘irresponsible wildlife tourist attractions around the world’, which are being sold via TripAdvisor.
These range from elephant rides, handling sea turtles, dolphin performances and taking selfies with lions and tigers.
Part of the cruelty comes from the animals being removed from their mothers when they’re young, according to the statement, but some attractions are also created as a result of the animals being beaten or kept in poor conditions.
The charity cited a report based on Oxford University research, which it claims shows 75 per cent of the 24 different types of wildlife attractions inflict cruelty on the animals in some way.
Many of these attractions were gaining positive reviews on TripAdvisor, according to the statement, with the majority of tourists possibly not realising the cruelty suffered by the animals.
Julie Middelkoop, Global Head of the ‘Wildlife – Not Entertainers’ campaign at World Animal Protection, said: ‘TripAdvisor is hugely influential and has a critical role to play in helping to end the cruel abuse of wild animals in tourism.
A charity says that TripAdvisor has millions of users contributing to its ratings without realising how something like handling turtles can be cruel
‘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.’
She added: ‘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 has also proposed TripAdvisor should stop sales of tickets to cruel wildlife attractions on its subsidiary Viator, stop giving out its Certificate of Excellence to these attractions and stop listing the attractions on its popularity index.
However, Hayley Coleman, spokesperson for TripAdvisor, told MailOnline Travel: ‘The fact that a property, establishment or business may be listed on TripAdvisor does not represent our endorsement of that establishment.
‘We provide the listings as a platform for travellers to share with others their genuine experiences there – positive or negative. 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.
World Animal Protection wants TripAdvisor to stop listing and selling tickets to the cruel attractions, including ones to dolphin performances
‘This goes to the heart of our mission as a platform – which is to shine a light on traveller sentiment about businesses around the world. Excluding businesses that have received overwhelming positive reviews from the travel community from either our rankings or awards, which are based on the quality and quantity of travellers reviews, would be contrary to that mission.
‘We believe the best catalyst for change comes from the travel community itself. To that end, if visitors to a wildlife attraction have a concern about the welfare practices they have seen, we absolutely encourage them to leave that feedback in a review on TripAdvisor as a way to help other travellers make more informed decisions.’
She added: ‘In the case of tours that can be booked through Viator, which are listed on TripAdvisor, they are subject to Viator’s Supplier Code of Conduct and a pre-screening process which ensures that, among other things, no animal-related experiences that are known to be prohibited by respective local governments are offered on the site.
‘Ultimately it is the responsibility of national governments and local regulatory bodies – not internet sites – to ensure that businesses are operating within the legal requirements of that country or region.’
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