Ethical Animal Encounters

It always surprises me how long it’s taken for the world to realise that most of the animal tourism activities we have participated in for many years involves the harm and exploitation of animals.  Only recently have animal activists begun to break through the social media feeds to shed light on the harmful effects of animal tourism.

Below are a list of some animal encounters that are far from ethical and involve exploitation of animals:

Elephant riding & performance – Elephants are taken from their parents as a baby and tortured to break their spirits so they are able to interact with humans. The process is called Phajaan, or “the crush”. As adults these Elephants are chained away from there natural environments and forced to carry tourists on their back all day long, as well as perform tricks to audiences of tourists.


Read Rough Guide’s “The truth about Elephant tourism in Asia


Circus performances – Animals are taken out of their natural environment, left in cages and only brought out once they have to do a performance. They are beaten and starved in order for them to perform tricks correctly.

Tiger temples – You may have seen the horrifying finds in the media about tiger cubs being killed, frozen and sold on the black market. Tourists were visiting the infamous Tiger Temple before it was closed down, taking photos with drugged tigers who are kept in confined cages.


Read Backpacker Bible’s “The Trouble with Tiger Temples”


Dancing bears – Young bears are captured in the wild, separated from their mothers, and taught by a trainer to become dancing bears in conditions of unimaginable cruelty.

Photos with Slow Loris or Gibbons – Endangered animals like the Slow Loris and the Gibbon suffer because of their cuteness. These creatures are captured from the wild and are subjected to having their teeth cut off or pulled out so they cannot bite tourists.


Read my article about protecting Gibbons in Thailand. 


Animal tourism
Click on the photo to read the truth about animal tourism in Bali

Now you have an understanding as to why I have spent a lot of time creating content for this blog that educates travellers about animal tourism, and suggests alternative ways that we can see and appreciate these beautiful creatures in the wild. Here are some of the ethical examples I have provided:


  • Visit conservation centres
  • Participate in safaris or nature walks
  • See animals in the wild
  • Visit ethical elephant sanctuaries
  • Do your research before you participate in any animal encounter
  • Support animal activist groups & organisations


Ethical Philippines
Click on the image to read about ethical animal encounters in the Philippines

Below are some useful links for finding information about animal tourism:

Backpacker Bible – Animal Friendly Travel

Animals Asia

Right Tourism

International Animal Rescue

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