Travel website TripAdvisor will no longer sell tickets to attractions where travelers interact with endangered species, after pressure from animal rights groups.
The new policy, announced Tuesday, means the travel e-commerce site will no longer offer tickets to things like elephant rides, swim with dolphin attractions and tiger petting. Children’s petting zoos, aquariums and attractions where visitors are “properly supervised” will not be affected by the new rule.
“TripAdvisor’s new booking policy and education effort is designed as a means to do our part in helping improve the health and safety standards of animals, especially in markets with limited regulatory protections,” said TripAdvisor president Stephen Kaufer said in a statement.
“TripAdvisor’s leadership position in travel means we can help educate millions of travellers about the diverse opinions that exist on matters of animal welfare.”
The decision comes after months of discussion with animal welfare and conservation groups that believe the attractions put endangered species at risk. The move has been widely celebrated by both animal welfare and travel organizations.
“By refusing to sell tickets to businesses that treat animals as entertainment or playthings, TripAdvisor is making a precedent-setting statement about the use and abuse of animals for entertainment ” said PETA executive vice-president Tracy Reiman.
“We commend TripAdvisor for taking steps to improve the standards for interactions with wild and captive species in tourism. This will encourage people to visit destinations that promote the safe viewing of wildlife in the wild, such as national parks, as well as legitimate rescue centres and zoological facilities that support on-the-ground wildlife conservation efforts,” said Wes Sechrest, CEO of Global Wildlife Conservation.
TripAdvisor has long prohibited users from buying tickets to attractions that promote the killing of animals, or “blood sports,” including bull fights and hunting activities.
The company also prohibits users from publishing reviews for businesses that used captive wild animals or endangered species for blood sport; however, various reviews about bull fighting remain on the company’s website.
Concerns surrounding wildlife attractions ballooned earlier this year after authorities raided Thailand’s now infamous Tiger Temple, removing more than 137 tigers from the temple grounds after 40 tiger cubs were found dead in a freezer and 20 more preserved in jars. The Buddhist temple was a popular tourist attraction that charged admission for visitors to take photos with the tigers and walk them on leashes.
— With files from The Associated Press