A Big Mistake: I supported Animal Tourism

Recently it has come to light in the media about Tiger Temple in Thailand. A huge tourist attraction that allowed visitors to go and take that breath-taking picture with fully grown tigers that you see all over the internet. If you don’t know what happened the Thai authorities have recently been trying to close down Tiger Temple due to numerous reports of animal cruelty, but when they went to move the 140 tigers from the temple they made a gruelling discovery of 20 dead tiger cubs in the freezer. Over the week of the operation, they discovered more and more horrible things and it made me feel sick and ashamed. Ashamed that I was once one of those tourists, new to the backpacking scene that paid to get them ‘breath-taking’ photos. I will forever stand by my point that Thai people are some the kindest people in the world, they really are but to animals, their culture teaches them differently. Animal cruelty is a big issue right across Asia and you see it everywhere you go.

Ever since I left the temple, I have been racked with guilt because it was so obvious that these animals were clearly sedated and being treated so badly, and the fact that I paid money to support such a cruel attraction. I guess we’re all naive when we first visit new places, we want to do what everyone else is doing, things that we couldn’t do say in our own country. Those once in a lifetime moments because where else would you ever get the chance to do anything like that? But you must ask yourself is it really work it?

At the time I was completely new to the travelling scene, naive and didn’t really know any different until I went and from that trip onwards I try to not support any animal tourisms that offer photos with dangerous wild animals, elephant rides especially if that’s not what they would naturally do in their environment. Plus one that makes me so so angry is Seaworld. I will never go to and support companies that take large mammals out of their natural habitat and put them into what you could basically call a bath. When will the world open their eyes and stop paying money for Seaworld to carry on what they’re doing to the whales?

It’s a valuable lesson I’ve learnt and have always felt guilty but I am so glad that organisations are finally getting closed down.

You can still get up close and personal with some animals in Thailand, one popular place to see elephants is Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai where you can volunteer for a day or two and bathe and feed the elephants. All the elephants are rescued from tourism, where they were highly distressed and forced to perform tricks and take tourists sitting on wooden chairs strapped to their backs for rides in the blistering hot sun, but now they are happy in a sanctuary full of love and care and that makes me smile.

3 Comment

  1. I totally understand you, did the same thing years ago. But never again. :\

  2. An excellent post and rightfully thought provoking. We decided to give Tiger Temple a miss because a travel savvy friend warned us about the sedation, we spent time at Elephant Nature Park instead. I can not recommend the approach to conservation there enough!

  3. It’s courageous of you to admit your mistakes – I too didn’t know any better and once rode elephants in Phuket, though that trip opened my eyes once I saw the chained-up baby elephants begging for food. I look forward to reading about your (ethical) adventures with animals!

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