Wildlife. Not Entertainers
From wild animal selfies, to swimming with dolphins, to riding elephants, to petting lion cubs, and taking tiger selfies, cruelty to animals in the entertainment industry is rampant.
What is wildlife entertainment?
World Animal Protection defines wildlife entertainment as the use of wild animals primarily for entertaining people, in ways that cause harm, stress or discomfort to the animals, or by displaying them in demeaning ways. Within such situations, wild animals are kept in inadequate living conditions that cause continuous suffering. They will also experience pain as part of the training methods. For example, orangutans are trained to re-enact kick-boxing matches, tiger cubs are made to pose with tourists for selfies, and elephants are forced to give rides and perform tricks in shows.
A “once-in-a-lifetime” experience for you is a lifetime of suffering for them. Often these animals exhibit stereotypical—abnormal and repetitive—behavior from their lives in captivity. These repetitive motions are a sign of psychological distress in animals and include but are not limited to: elephants swaying back and forth while bobbing their heads; dolphins swimming in repetitive circles in tiny tanks; big cats pacing back and forth in enclosures too small; and orcas and other cetaceans beaching themselves on performance platforms or gnawing on and ramming into gates.
Not only are these stereotypical behaviors not seen in wild animals, the tricks animals in captivity are forced to perform are completely unnatural to them. Elephants don’t walk tight ropes in the wild. Bears don’t dance. Dolphins don’t tail walk.
In captive marine parks, cetaceans are often out of the water waiving their pectoral fins or raising their caudal fin (tail) for selfies. Because whales and dolphins evolved to live underwater, beaching themselves as a photo prop puts a tremendous amount of weight on their organs and can lead to serious health issues.
Wild animals need you
Without you, who do wild animals have to speak up for them? From signing petitions and making pledges to educating yourself and those around you, there are so many actions you can take to better the lives of wild animals around the world. Let's end cruel animal entertainment together.
Separated from families
Animals abused in the entertainment industry are often separated from their families. Many dolphins living in marine parks around the world were captured from the wild and separated from their pods. Others have been bred in captivity and sold or “loaned” to different marine parks to breed more animals for the industry.
Tiger and lion cubs are taken from their mothers (sometimes at just a month old) and are constantly chained or left in small, barren cages for tourists to handle and hug for selfies. Some big cat facilities drug the animals when they get older so tourists can snap the perfect selfie. When captive-bred lions grow too old for tourists to hug and hold but are still young, the animals are sometimes viciously retrained for “walk with lions” experiences. When they become unmanageable, they are abandoned or discarded at roadside zoos.
Elephants in the entertainment industry are taken from their mothers, beaten, and endure ongoing physical and psychological abuse during training when they’re young. Our Taken For A Ride study noted that captive elephants are primarily taken from the wild, although in some countries—including the United States—they are bred in captivity.
Horrific training techniques ensure the animals are submissive enough to perform tricks, spend their long lives chained, and continuously give rides to paying tourists. Bullhooks (sharp training tools used to hit or stab elephants) remind the elephants of their abusive training and human dominance.
- Bottlenose dolphins are six times more likely to die immediately after capture from the wild and transfer between facilities.
- Wild cetaceans (whales and dolphins) travel 64-160 kilometers a day, achieve speeds of 48 kilometers per hour, and dive hundreds of feet deep. Even in the largest facilities, cetaceans have less than 0.0001% (one millionth) of their natural habitat range.
- Captive marine mammals suffer from a huge range of health problems, including extreme stress, neurotic behaviors and abnormal levels of aggression.
- There’s a 96% chance that an attraction offering saddled rides or shows keeps elephants in cruel and unacceptable living conditions.
- When not giving rides or performing, elephants are typically chained day and night, most of the time to chains less than 10 feet long.
- Between 2010 and 2016 in Thailand alone, 17 fatalities and 21 serious injuries to people by captive elephants were reported in the media. Unreported incidents involving local elephant keepers mean this figure is likely an underestimate.
What you can do
Join the movement to protect wild animals
Pledge your support to be an animal-friendly tourist when you travel. You can protect these animals by reducing the demand for wild animals in entertainment in the countries where you are on holiday.
As a thank you for taking our pledge, we'll send you a link to download our animal-friendly pocket travel guide, including these tips and more. You can print our guide or save it to your phone or any device so you'll have it handy on your next trip.
Book with an animal-friendly travel company
More than 256 travel companies have joined World Animal Protection to implement elephant and wildlife-friendly commitments. This is in no small part due to people around the world speaking up for animals. We are grateful for your support.
Ask your travel company if they have an animal welfare policy. If they don't, tell them about our campaign and ask them to get in touch with us. We're working with some of the largest travel companies, like G Adventures and Intrepid Travel, who are committed to animal-friendly vacations. View our full list of elephant-friendly travel companies.
Are you a travel company looking to join our movement? We want to hear from you. Send us an email to find out how you can help lead the travel industry to protect wildlife.
Join the movement
Join the movement to help protect animals today.
By working together, we can help end the suffering of wild animals in the name of tourist entertainment for good.
Travellers are changing their attitudes towards wildlife tourism
- 84% of Canadians believe wild animals belong in the wild where they can live naturally
- 81% of Canadians would prefer to see animals in the wild
- 75% of Canadians think people should not make an income from keeping wild animals if the animals suffer
This study was commissioned by World Animal Protection and conducted by KANTAR PUBLIC via TNS online omnibus from 21-26 August 2014 and 12-16 January 2017 and 24-28 January 2019. Sample 37,121 across 12 countries. A total of 3,067 Canadians were surveyed. Data was weighted to be representative by age, gender and region within country.
- A Close up on cruelty: The harmful impact of wildlife selfies in the Amazon
- Breaking Africa’s elephants: Exposing the rise of cruel tourist rides
- Breeding cruelty: How tourism is killing Africa’s lions
- Checking out of cruelty: How to end wildlife tourism’s holiday horrors
- Taken for a ride: The conditions for elephants used in tourism in Asia
- The Case Against Marine Mammals in Captivity
- The show can't go on: End the suffering of wild animals at cruel visitor attractions in zoos and aquariums
- The show can’t go on: Ending wild animal abuse for entertainment
- Tiger selfies exposed: A portrait of Thailand’s tiger entertainment industry
- Wildlife on a tightrope: An overview of wild animals in entertainment in Thailand
- Wildlife abusement parks in Bali, Lombok and Gili Trawangan
Thinking of travelling to Bali or other parts of Indonesia? Read the findngs from our investigation.