30 Oct 2016

Claire Fryer - Get off that elephant!

From Sunday Morning, 7:46 am on 30 October 2016


An animal welfare group has welcomed the decision by the website, TripAdviser, to stop selling tickets to attractions where tourists are able to pat or ride wild animals held in captivity.

Elephant ride

Elephant ride in Chiang Rai Province, Thailand Photo: supplied

People for the Ethical Treatement of Animals (PETA) said that would put pressure on other tourist operators to follow suit.

PETA Australia's campaign co-ordinator Claire Fryer told Sunday Morning about 110 million people worldwide each year visited cruel wildlife attractions where animals were abused and beaten to break their spirits. That then enabled tourists to ride them, pat them or take selfies with the animals.

"In order for these animals - who have not been domesticated, they are wild animals - to be used, whether it's for work purposes or logging or whether it's for riding, they have to have been broken, they have to have been made submissive to our demands which is simply not our right to do."

She said tourists often were not aware of how badly treated the animals were. But public opinion was changing.

"This move from TripAdviser though is a reflection of the change in public opinion. Most people are becoming aware of the suffering these wild animals endure when they're kept in these conditions."

Ms Fryer said TripAdviser's decision would put pressure on other companies to stop selling tickets to animal attractions.

"It's the world's largest travel site. They've agreed to end sales to attractions where the public's going to come into contact with wild animals. So that's going to obviously include swimming with dolphins, elephant rides, tiger selfies or tiger petting but it's not even going to be limited to that. They are looking at other activities as well."

Ms Fryer said the move did not prevent tourists observing animals in the wild or, for example, activities like swimming with seals off the coast of Kaikoura.

"As long as you're not disturbing them, as long as you aren't breaking any legislation in regards to close contact, you aren't feeding them to try and draw them closer to you, it's great that we can be in an environment where they are happy, where they are living their natural lives and we can observe them and to some small degree be a part of that."