The popular travel review website TripAdvisor has announced its plans to halt sales of tickets to tourist activities that can be harmful to animals. These include swim-with-the-dolphin experiences, elephant rides and wild animal “petting zoos.” Prior to the decision, TripAdvisor allowed visitors to book tickets for hundreds of these types of tourist attractions.
The attractions singled out by TripAdvisor have been shown to cause physical and psychological strain to animals, and in some cases may even result in their early death. In addition, they increase the rate of animals being taken from the wild for human entertainment.
The company is the first leading travel booking site to stop the sale of tickets to these types of tourist activities. The decision came after pressure from, and consultation with, animal rights groups including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), among others. Animal rights organizations hope that TripAdvisor’s decision will have a ripple effect among its competitors.
“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’s CEO Stephen Kaufer.
While tourists may assume that any activity involving animals is subject to regulation, this is often not the case, said Wes Sechrest, chief scientist and chief executive of the conservation group G.W.C.. “I think the average person would think that there’s animals there, there’s