Protect elephants from cruel tourist entertainment on World Animal Day

October 02 2015

UPDATE January 26 2016: Thomas Cook has stopped offering elephant excursions from this season’s promotions, and are planning to audit their entire range of wildlife experiences.

Promotions for elephant rides and shows should by now have been moved from all of their websites. This is progress, but we want to make sure that Thomas Cook doesn’t slip back into selling elephant rides and shows.  

We will not release the pressure. We will be working with Thomas Cook to ensure they stay true to their statements and continue to phase out elephant rides and shows. We are collaborating with representatives from all of Thomas Cook Group’s offices and are hoping for a favourable outcome for animal welfare.

We’re also meeting with Thomas Cook staff and travel industry regulators to ensure that elephant welfare is adopted by tour operators.  We also hope to find ways that we can work together more effectively so that we can find long-lasting solutions for elephants.

Thank you to all of you who signed the petition.  You’ve shown Thomas Cook that tourists will not tolerate the cruel abuse of elephants.  Please keep up your support – it will lead to elephants being properly protected and cared for.   

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Travel industry heavy weights are taking a stand for elephants

Right alongside protecting vulnerable children, communities and the environment, animal protection is now a top priority for global travel brands like G Adventures, Intrepid Travel, The Travel Corporation (including well-known brands like Contiki, Trafalgar and Insight Vacations) and World Expeditions.

With the world’s spotlight recently on the cruel killing of Cecil the lion people are becoming more aware of the exploitation of wildlife in tourism.   In the last month alone, twenty travel companies across the world have stopped selling elephant rides and shows, and signed the World Animal Protection Elephant-friendly Tourist Pledge.

Brett Tollman, CEO, The Travel Corporation and co-founder of the TreadRight Foundation says: "As The Travel Corporation and our family of brands continue on our sustainability journey, guided by the TreadRight Foundation, we recognize the importance of continually adopting new best practices and policies in the interest of helping to drive the positive transformation of the travel industry.

"We are proud to collaborate with World Animal Protection in the interests of ensuring the industry embraces animal-friendly tourism and strengthens wildlife protection."

G Adventures, the world’s largest small-group adventure travel company has also signed the pledge. “We were happy to sign World Animal Protection’s elephant-friendly tourism pledge as it’s in line with our animal welfare policy. G Adventures has been committed to this issue for some time, we recognize the importance of animal protection and our role in keeping wildlife safe and in the wild. We want to make sure that all animals encountered on our tours are treated humanely and that our travellers not only see the world, they make it better” says Jamie Sweeting, Vice President of Sustainability and Social Enterprise for G Adventures and President of the Planeterra Foundation.

“It’s our obligation to protect animals in tourism from abuse, and that is why we signed World Animal Protection’s elephant-friendly tourism pledge” says Donna Lawrence, Responsible Travel Manager for World Expeditions. “The best animal encounter a traveller can have is one where the animal is seen in its wild habitat displaying natural behaviours. Our Animal Welfare Code of Conduct, developed in conjunction with World Animal Protection, sets out our animal welfare expectations for our stakeholders and travellers to follow”.

Despite major travel companies creating positive momentum for protecting vulnerable wildlife, one of the best known names in the travel industry refuses to stop promoting cruel elephant rides. The Thomas Cook Group, who claim on their website that they “care[s] deeply about animal welfare” still sell tours to a number of venues that promote animal abuses in Thailand, India and Zimbabwe. World Animal Protection has made multiple approaches to the global headquarters of the travel agent asking them to sign our Elephant-friendly Tourist Pledge.

Josey Kitson, Executive Director of World Animal Protection Canada says: “There is no humane way to ride an elephant.  Huge suffering goes on behind the scenes.  Taken from their mothers when young, elephants are isolated, starved and beaten until their spirits are broken.  Sadly, about 3,000 elephants are suffering in captivity today in venues across Asia and Southern Africa.”

“We’d welcome the chance to work with Thomas Cook on solutions that not only put a stop to cruel elephant rides and shows, but also ensure that tourists can enjoy seeing elephants in the wild. Potential travellers can help by encouraging companies like Thomas Cook to come on board by taking action at StandUpForWildlife.ca”  

Travel brands are seeing the value of animal protection as well.  “It’s high time all travel suppliers put compassion ahead of profits and end some of these deplorable ‘experiences’ that exploit and harm animals. Being an animal-friendly company is good for business, because we automatically tap into those clients that share our compassion and commitment,” Robert Eschenasi, Managing Partner at Comfortable Hiking Holidays.

Today is World Animal Day

Today is a great day to remind ourselves that all animals deserve our protection – not just on World Animal Day, but on every day of the year.

Spreading awareness makes a difference. But we also need to target those who are closer to the cause. Thomas Cook Group supports the cruel practices of elephant riding and shows on an influential and global scale - our outrage needs to be communicated directly in order for them to make the change.

Take action for elephants today

Add your name to the petition calling on Thomas Cook to stop selling elephant rides.

“174,091 people from all over the world signed our petition calling on Thomas Cook to stop selling and promoting elephant rides and shows”
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