Intrepid Travel and global animal welfare organization World Animal Protection have teamed up to provide tour operators with a complimentary Animal Welfare Policy Toolkit that is customizable and free for download from Intrepid Travel’s website.
The intention behind this initiative is to create an easily accessible way for tourism companies to implement more ethical wildlife practices into their businesses.
The toolkit includes steps that can be taken to become wildlife-friendly, including information on how to draft animal welfare policy for travel companies, and a full editable animal welfare policy that is modeled off of Intrepid’s, which was produced in collaboration with World Animal Protection. The toolkit also provides World Animal Protection’s contact for additional support such as resources to help educate customers or staff.
“The COVID-19 crisis has provided our industry with an opportunity to redefine what tourism looks like once travel resumes and to use this time to forge a new path for a more responsible, sustainable and ethical future,” said James Thornton, CEO of Intrepid Travel. “We must put real action behind our words, and as operators who facilitate experiences all around the world, it is our responsibility to protect the environment and all of its living species. The very least we can do is ensure our practices are not causing harm to the wildlife who call the destinations we visit home.”
According to World Animal Protection, up to 550,000 wild animals are currently enduring lifetimes of suffering at tourist entertainment venues globally. Activities such as riding elephants, taking photos with tigers, lion walks and dolphin performances are examples of popular tourist attractions that can cause lifelong trauma for wild animals. The impact of COVID-19 has made the situation even more dire, with at least 85 elephant camps in Thailand that were forced to close as a result of the pandemic. World Animal Protection launched an appeal to help some of these venues – with this support, the venues can at least feed and take care of their elephants during the next couple months.
Audrey Mealia, Global Head of Wildlife at World Animal Protection said: “We are at a turning point when it comes to our relationship with wild animals. For too long, these intelligent, sociable creatures have been the victims of a cruel trade, just to entertain tourists on holiday.
“Wild animals are destined for a life of suffering and brutality behind the scenes, cruelly as entertainers under the guise of innocent fun for visitors. Tourists are duped into believing they are helping wild animals and the conservation of the species, while in reality they are creating the demand for such activities.
“The tourism industry has come to a halt in the wake of COVID-19 but it will re-build – this is the ideal opportunity to build a better future. We are calling on the tourism industry to revise their wildlife policies and stop offering exploitative experiences to their customers once and for all.”
To download the Animal Welfare Policy Toolkit, visit: www.intrepidtravel.com/animal-welfare.
For additional guidance and information, visit: www.worldanimalprotection.org/wildlife-friendly-travel-companies.