Ethical travelers will naturally boycott activities that exploit animals, but you can take your compassion to another level by seeking out cruelty-free activities and making it a point to do no harm.
See animals in their rightful homes by visiting a national park. Do your research before booking a tour to make sure that the animals are protected and that the money you pay is used for conservation purposes. Don’t encourage your guide to get too close to the animals. You should insist on keeping your distance.
Give aquariums a pass and go snorkeling or scuba diving in the endless choice of beaches, islands, and marine national parks to appreciate sea life at its most natural and wonderful. Resist the temptation to touch animals or coral, and avoid shallow areas to minimize your impact on the marine environment.
Support organizations such as Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary in Thailand, where former captive elephants are cared for and rehabilitated. Instead of hurting elephants by paying for a ride, you can meet the gentle giants and hear the heartwarming stories of their rescue.
Whale- or dolphin-watching excursions allow you to appreciate these fascinating animals from a respectful distance in their natural environment. Ask about the local laws or codes of conduct to ensure that the tour company is responsible. The best tours will maintain a distance of at least 50 meters for dolphins and 100 meters for whales, turn the vessel off or keep it in neutral should the animals approach, and remain in the vicinity of a group of animals for a maximum of only 15 minutes.
Many cruel animal displays are perpetuated by tourists’ wallets. By choosing humane activities and refusing to spend money on dolphin swims, elephant rides, tiger photo ops, zoo tickets, and other cruel displays, you can go home with great memories and a clear conscience.
Posted by Claire Miller