Is There Secret Animal Abuse Hiding In Your Travel Bucket List?

bucket list-animal abuse-cover


Travel is amazing. When you get out of your comfort zone and explore you see so much more beauty in the world. You also find beauty in other cultures and people. Generally becoming a kinder, more accepting person.

But travel also has its hidden evils. The tourism industry is getting sneakier at hiding animal abuse from us. They know that animal lovers would never knowingly pay for cruelty.

Are any of these on your bucket list? It might be time for a re-write!

Elephant Trekking

Elephant Riding –bucket listBrent Lewin / Redux Pictures & Elephant Trekking in Koh Chang

The most common tourist faux pas.

Before an elephant will allow someone to sit on their back they need to go through the Phajaan. Translated as ‘the breaking of the spirit’.

Baby elephants are separated from their mothers and tortured. Burned, stabbed and beaten for up to a week, starved of food and sleep. Half of the elephants who go into the phajaan won’t be strong enough to survive. Those who do will live the rest of their lives in fear of bullhooks and pain.

Never visit anywhere that allows elephants to carry people, or be controlled by bullhooks.

But there is a massive ethical movement happening! People are choosing alternatives like Elephant Nature Park where elephants can wander, free from chains and bullhooks.

Read more about how to end elephant abuse.

Tiger Kingdom

Tiger Kingdom – bucket listGuilin Park in China &  Tiger Kingdom in Thailand

There are tiger farms all over Asia. Mothers kept in isolation, her litters removed from her so she can produce the next litter faster.

The cubs are raised until they’re large enough to be sold illegally into the black market as parts. Most commonly skeletons to soak in rice wine, a popular form of Chinese alternative medicine.

The only difference between these farms and Tiger Kingdom is that Tiger Kingdom lets you come in and cuddle the stock.

If Tiger Kingdom is on your bucket list rip it out, screw it up & burn it!

Read more about how to shut down Tiger Kingdom here

Sea World & Dolphinariums

SeaWorld – bucket listUnnamed Russian wild captured female. She didn’t survive a month out of the ocean & SeaWorld.

Fun fact: Orcas are members of the dolphin family. And if you love any type of dolphin, you’ll never pay to see them in a tank!

There are SO MANY issues caused by captivity. Here are the absolute basics:

  1. Shallow tanks are not healthy. Dorsal fins collapse without water supporting their weight, and they get sunburnt.
  2. All pods use different ‘languages’. When SeaWorld throws in orcas together from different places they cannot understand each other.
  3. Close proximity to other orcas and nowhere to escape makes them aggressive towards each other.
  4. Their teeth get ground down to stubs, exposing nerves. From boredom chewing on the bars and aggressive ‘jaw popping’.
  5. Their voices bounce back off the walls at them driving them insane.
  6. Half of all wild-caught dolphins die within months of captivity
  7. All wild caught dolphins die prematurely. SeaWorld’s orcas maximum lifespans have been shortened by 87 years, on average.

If you want to learn more the films Blackfish and The Cove are well worth watching!

And if you want to see dolphins there are lots of amazing whale watching & dolphin watching tours out there. So you can see them wild & free!

Watch Blackfish here

South Africa’s Lion Parks

Lion Parks – bucket listLion Park & Richie Bland with a lion killed by a crossbow.

Lesser known attractions, but if they are on your bucket list it’s absolutely time for a rethink!

They seem amazing at first. Volunteer in Africa raising orphaned lion cubs by the bottle. But the reality is they are just more lion farms, like the Tiger Kingdom. When the lions are large enough they’re sold to canned hunting safaris. The hand-reared lions are moved to a fenced-off area. A  short while later a hunter who paid  £5,000  – £25,000  will shoot it from a 4×4.

Many lions survive the first shot and suffer immensely. Particularly when shot with crossbows, which are growing in popularity. The only difference is, unlike the Tiger Kingdom, this is all completely legal!

Here’s a full list of the breeders guilty of raising lions to be shot.

bucket list-animal-abuse-Pinterest


Have you met some other types of animal abuse during your travels?
What can we do to stop this evil practices and be responsible travellers?



bucket list-animal abuse-cover


Lottie is a part-time traveller, humanitarian, animal activist & founder of The Wild Heart Travels. Promoting ethical trips & inspiring responsible travel.





2 Comments on “Is There Secret Animal Abuse Hiding In Your Travel Bucket List?

  1. I absolutely agree with you. We mistreat animals for what? To make a nice selfie? I would even go further, I think we should gradually close all the ZOOs in the world. What are we teaching our kids, that keeping animals in a cage is ok?

    • So true, Milos! Zoos are an old fashion now, reminders from another time. The problem can come from the fact that many animals lived in captivity for so long that they cannot survive alone in the wild. Of course, this can be changed with investing in special programs.

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