, This week TripAdvisor have announced that they will no longer sell tickets to attractions that allow tourists to come into physical contact with wild animals. This must be good news, but I wonder if there's less to this than the fanfare would make you believe.
Firstly, let me clarify that this is a move in the right direction. Cracking down on anything that leads to the abuse and exploitation of wild animals is a good idea. Not only is this very bad for the animals, but it could also be potentially dangerous for the humans involved.
Secondly, TripAdvisor are making a number of sensible exceptions: interaction with domestic animals (horseback riding, petting zoos), feeding programs, volontourism and educational touching in zoos (presumably including those don't be afraid of spiders programs many zoos run!)
But what does the change actually amount to? You won't be able to book anything that involves touching wildlife on TripAdvisor. Great, how many people book these things through TripAdvisor? I guess it isn't their core sales, otherwise they wouldn't be putting a stop to it! All they say is that's "it's not a huge revenue loss".
Will these attractions still be listed in TripAdvisor? We aren't told. How about attractions that involve abuse but no touching? Is it ok to watch a monkey riding a bike as long as I'm not touching it? TripAdvisor isn't telling us - yet.
So yes, it's a good first step, but we aren't quite where we should be yet. That said a hundred years ago people were still exhibited in freakshows. All of which reminds me I should write a post about the dos and don'ts of whale shark excursions.