Abta is calling for better protection of wild creatures as tourist attractions in its updated Animal Welfare Guidelines.
The document, revised from the 2013 edition, rules out any photo opportunities where the animal cannot move away, performances where training involves punishment or food deprivation, elephants without a barrier, and contact or feeding with wild cats, crocodiles, great apes, bears or sloths.
It also labels ostrich riding, canned hunting, unlicensed zoos, bear pits, animal fighting, dancing bears, snake charming, rodeo events, trophy hunting and ritual slaughter as unacceptable.
Although the guidelines are voluntary, the association encourages travel companies to not sell any attractions with unacceptable practices.
“Abta members have led the way on animal welfare by implementing Abta’s guidelines for a number of years, and others in the industry from around the world use Abta’s guidelines as the basis for their animal welfare policies,” said Clare Jenkinson, Abta’s senior destinations and sustainability manager.
“Naturally, with the emergence of new evidence, thinking evolves on what constitutes a basic requirement or an unacceptable practice.
“Thanks to the valued input from many expert stakeholders, the revised guidelines will mean that travel companies can implement animal welfare approaches that reflect the latest evidence, working in partnership with suppliers to raise standards.”
The guidelines were revised after 66% of respondents in Abta’s Holiday Habits 2019 research had concerns about the impacts of animal tourism.
Abta consulted with industry experts, scientists, zoologist organisations, associations and non-governmental organisations when developing the document.
Julie Middelkoop, campaign lead for the non-profit organisation World Animal Protection, said: “The clear advice that it is unacceptable to use elephants for rides, shows, bathing or any other form of tourist contact without a barrier is a real breakthrough.
“We are equally thrilled to see that other harmful tourist experiences such as selfies with sloths in the Amazon, feeding orangutans or giraffes and walking with lions in southern Africa have the same listing.
“World Animal Protection, World Cetacean Alliance, Whale and Dolphin Conservation, Humane Society International and Born Free Foundation are committed to continue working with Abta to ensure that their guidelines around captive whales and dolphins are updated to reflect the latest science, ethics and public attitudes around their captivity.”
The new guidelines are available for members to view or non-members to buy at abta.com