NOS Nieuws•vandaag, 18:52
Animals are frequently abused in animal parks in Bali. That says the organization World Animal Protection, after an undercover investigation. Wildlife parks are very popular on the island, but tourists often don’t know that the animals are mistreated. It is a permanent problem, says the organization.
In a report, 34 animal attractions were investigated, for which about 1300 animals are active. The investigation led to “shocking” conclusions, according to the organization. For example, dolphins swim in swimming pools that are much too small, animals are often touched by tourists and elephants are chained without shade. World Animal Protection wants the animal parks to handle things.
In 2017, the animal welfare organization also conducted research into the state of affairs in Bali. Small improvements have been made since then, but the standard for animal welfare remains very low according to the organization.
Wild animal selfies
The Indonesian island of Bali is a popular holiday destination. On social media, people are happy to share photos of the island, including selfies with wildlife. The report argues that this creates the impression that getting so close to animals is justified and fun. The focus is on the unique experience.
People are largely unaware of the animal suffering associated with the popular outing to a wildlife park, the report finds. According to the animal organization, frequent and forced interaction with people can cause stress for animals.
Dangerous dolphin tours
The research shows that animals are increasingly forced to act. Furthermore, hooks are sometimes used in elephants to indicate master dominance, which can cause pain to the elephant. On dolphin tours, dolphins are cornered by a large number of boats that also come dangerously close and sail at high speed, sometimes resulting in collisions
The animal rights organization therefore advises visitors to view animals from a distance in their natural habitat and not to buy souvenirs preceded by animal suffering.
Andito WasiA turtle is held for a photo
A recent poll (conducted among 23,000 people in 15 countries) shows that people believe that tourism agencies have an important role to play in combating animal suffering. According to them, these agencies should not recommend parks when animals are treated badly there.
However, it is difficult for these travel agencies to formulate a policy on this, because wildlife parks, such as those in Bali, use terms that are misleading. “Zoo parks pretend to be a shelter, or say they keep animals for species conservation. That is greenwashing,” says Sanne Kuiper, Wild Animals campaign manager at the animal protection organization. “If you can ride a wild animal, touch it or take a picture with it, there is always animal suffering.”
In the report, the organization shares tips for travel organizations to become ‘wildlife-friendly’.
World Animal Protection says that animal suffering from tourism is a problem in several places in the world. Nevertheless, the organization states in the report on Bali that wildlife tourism in general is not necessarily bad, as long as it does not lead to ‘overtourism’. This is the case when the number of tourists is so high that it has negative effects on the living environment and animal welfare. For example, mass tourism provides too little rest for animals and the habitat is too much affected by the construction of tourist accommodations and other infrastructure.
Tourism, as long as it is not mass tourism, does not necessarily lead to animal suffering. Tourists can even have a positive effect on wildlife care, the report says. For example, it helps when tourists visit parks that actively contribute to the conservation of wildlife. Finally, it is important to be critical of travel agencies and ask about the animal welfare policy they apply, the organization says.