Have you been on holiday and seen something involving animals that disturbed or upset you? Elephants on bicycles, alligator wrestling, snake charming for example? Did you consider complaining to your tour company?

(Pic courtesy Laatste.info)

This year, ABTA, the body that governs British Tour Operators, brought out a series of guidelines which advises their members as to the way in which ‘animals in tourism’ should be treated. At first, four major tour groups (TUI Travel, Thomas Cook, Virgin Holidays and Cosmos) will use the guidelines, but hopefully they will be more widespread.

RIGHT-tourism will be doing a series of blogs on these fantastic guidelines, so here’s the first:

Top Ten ‘Unacceptable’ Practices

ABTA members should not be taking their customers to any of these kind of activities – so if your tour operator does, please tell us, and ABTA!

1. Bullfighting and bull running

(Pic courtesy National Geographic)

2. Animals performing non-natural behaviours, such as elephant shows

3. Animals (such as monkeys, slow lorises, lion cubs) used as ‘props’ for photographs which involve mistreatment (eg most wild animals in these situations will have claws, teeth removed)

(Pic courtesy of News.Mongabay.com)

4. Human-initiated physical interaction with wild whales and dolphins

5. So-called ‘sport’ such as elephant polo, ostrich racing, alligator wrestling, cockfighting

6. Tiger ‘farms’


7. Animal breeding in sanctuaries or orphanages

8. Direct contact with, and feeding of, wild roaming animals

9. Animals used for begging (eg snake charming, dancing bears)

(Pic courtesy of Green Guides Spain)

10. Animals on display in restaurants and entertainment venues involving performance or bad practice

So if your tour operator has taken to you somewhere that involved any of these practices, particularly if the operator is from one of the companies above, please tell them, tell us, and tell ABTA. Thanks!