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Exciting times in our fantastic World Cup for Wildlife! We’ll be comparing wildlife tourism in each of the countries taking part in the World Cup to see who will ultimately take the title Wildlife Tourism World Champions 2014! In this second group of first round matches, we’ll be focussing particularly on good attacking – the positives of wildlife tourism in each country…

Next up: Spain v Chile

Check out the highlights and issues around wildlife tourism in each country below (all information taken from, then read our Match Report at the bottom to find out the score!

Spain Wildlife – Highlights

Spain has 13 National Parks, offering tourists a remarkable array of terrains to explore. For those interested in wildlife watching, there is no better park than Cordillera Cantabri which provides an important habitat for some of Spain’s most endangered animals, including the brown bear. At the start of the 20th Century, brown bears would have been reasonably common, with around 1,000 bears living in the wild, however,  as a result of hunting and habitat destruction, their population has plummeted to just 100. To read more about visiting National Parks, click here.

Country Specific Issues

Running of the Bull and other bull fiestas

The Running of the Bull festival, known locally as San Fermin Festival, takes place each July. It has been going since 1911 and is a popular tourist event, despite the cruelty involved to the bulls. All of the bulls that run through the streets of Pamplona end up in the Bull Ring, where they are killed in front of thousands of spectators. Across Spain, hundreds of festivals take place each year involving bulls, often with the animals being chased, tortured or having flaming torches attached to their horns. You can read more about cruel sports here and about ‘cultural’ events involving cruelty here. You can read more about bull fiestas here.

Bull Fighting

Bull fighting is promoted as a large part of Spanish culture and many tourists attend bull fights. What may seem like a classic man versus beast battle, is far from fair. Thousands of bulls each year are killed in front of spectators, many have been drugged, are exhausted and confused, then they are repeatedly stabbed until they die. Whilst bullfighting is still legal in most parts of Spain, it is banned by law in Catalonia and in the Canary Islands. Despite the claims of cultural importance, a recent survey showed that 67% of Spanish are not interested in visiting a bull fight. You can read much more about bull fighting here.

Diving and Snorkelling

Spain is one of Europe’s best spots for diving, with more than 4000km of varied shoreline meeting the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. Diving experiences offer tourists the chance to encounter Spain’s marine life in the wild, a far better experience than going along to one of the countries many aquariums, however, during the peak season, some areas may become very busy and the marine life could be at risk through over-crowding and heavy boat traffic. Please take the time to read our simple tips on how to avoid causing harm while diving, here

Photo Prop Animals

As in many places in the world, in some Spanish resorts such as Benidorm tourists may be offered the chance to pay to have their photo taken with a wild animal, such as a capuchin monkey. While this may give you a good photograph, the animals will be suffering: in many cases, they are taken from their family at a young age (often the parents must be killed), have their teeth removed or cut and their claw removed, as well as living in less than ideal circumstances. Please don’t encourage this trade by paying for a photo. Read more here.

Chile Wildlife – Highlights

Wedged between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes mountains, Chile has an incredible diversity of landscapes and wildlife. Close to 20% of Chile’s mainland territory is designated as protected areas, and includes 36 national parks and 49 national reserves. Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia is probably Chile’s best known and most beautiful tourist attraction. Among its beautiful scenery of glaciers, rivers and mountains, you will find more than 100 species of exotic birds (parakeets, flamingos), guanacos (similar to llamas), pumas, and the endangered Chilean huemul (a species of deer). With its extensive coast, Chile is also home to sea birds, dolphins, seals, blue whales, and even penguin colonies (which can be seen at Isla Magdalena and Seno Otway). See our tips for unobtrusive wildlife watching here. According to the prestigious publication Ethical Traveler, Chile was voted one of the world’s ten best ethical destinations for 2014.

Country Specific Issues


Chile has a large amount of zoos. Like zoos across the world the standards can vary. The largest zoo is Santiago Zoo (Zooligico National) in the Metropolitan Park area. The reviews for this zoo on Trip Advisor are mixed, but a large amount of them do suggest that the enclosures are not well maintained and too small. One reviewer from Canada posted: ‘This zoo made me want to cry. The conditions in which the animals were being kept were terrible. The leopard was cut and bleeding in its cage. It looked as though it had been declawed and its teeth had been sanded down, the tigers and elephants looked like they were dying, the polar bear had almost no water to swim in and it’s cage looked disgusting. People were able to stick their hand through the bars of the cages and poke the animals.” If you are going to any of Chile’s zoos please read our general issue article here.

Bird Watching

Chile is a renowned site for birdwatchers and wildlife spotters, with almost 20% of the country dedicated as national parks. Owing to the massive variety in the landscape, from glaciers to desert, birders can experience an extensive and broad variety of birds, such as different species of penguin, condor, sea birds, woodpecker, flamingo and ñandú (a tall, fast running, flightless bird). There are various tour operators offering excursions both from outside of Chile, and once tourists arrive in the country. Travellers are advised to check the credentials of the tour operators, look for reviews, and don’t always select the cheapest ones. For more information about bird watching, please read our article here.

Match Report

Both teams suffer from defensive frailties – Spain from bull-fighting and Chile from its zoos. But with the emphasis on positive football in this game, we’re in for a treat. Spain performs well with several national parks and more species than you’d think, but compared to Chile, it’s a minnow. Stunning scenery and a huge amount of tourist-friendly wildlife, Chile walk this one.

Final Score

Spain 1 v 4 Chile

Don’t miss the next game…