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How To Enjoy Animal Free Holidays

By: Siobhan ONeill - Updated: 17 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
How To Enjoy Animal Free Holidays

When we book a holiday the last thing we think about is whether or not animals will be affected by our choice of destination. But once we arrive, we may begin to look for attractions to entertain the kids, or things to do that we would never normally have the chance to do at home. Lots of these activities are likely to involve animals, and our more exotic holidays may have a direct impact on local wildlife. It may be important to consider animal welfare on holiday, if we want to try to keep to an animal free lifestyle.

Considering The Environment On Holiday

A lot has been made in past years of local wildlife and environmental features being affected by people on holiday - for example nesting turtles on tourist beaches, or protected reefs being damaged by divers or visiting boats. Because of the high profile nature of these concerns, much has been done now to protect wildlife in or near tourist resorts. However, there is no denying there is still an impact on wildlife from the development of tourism. And it does not need to be exotic locations where the environment is affected. Even closer to home protected species may live on islands or areas of natural beauty that people are keen to visit on holiday - either in this country or abroad.

If you are eager not to affect local wildlife when you holiday, it may be wise to do a little research on your destination and some of the natural habitats and local animals species that may be impacted.

Thinking About Attractions On Holiday

It's a popular feature of any holiday that we look for interesting things to do and see, and many of these attractions will involve animals and wildlife. Zoos, aquariums, rodeos, bull fighting, donkey rides, whale or dolphin watching, snorkeling or diving - all revolve around watching and interacting with animals. It may be the case that in many of these locations animals are in distress, are injured, or are having their natural behaviours disrupted by captivity or the presence of people. As appealing as it might seem, if you are keen not to encourage tourism based on wildlife, you might want to consider avoiding these kinds of attractions.

Similarly, safari trips are a good source of tourism to Africa, and it could be argued that some help protect wildlife that is endangered or at risk from poachers. But some safaris disrupt local wildlife and disturb their environments. You should look for approved safaris before embarking on such a trip if it is important to you that animals are protected and not disturbed in any way. As exciting as it might be to see exotic wildlife up close, they should really be viewed from a distance to avoid frightening them or disrupting their natural environment.

Beware Of Animal Exploitation On Holidays

It is becoming less and less common that you will see dancing bears or other forms of animal exploitation on holiday, but it does still go on and most animal welfare groups say it should not be encouraged. It may be tempting to have your children photographed with a monkey, or pictures of your partner with a snake coiled around them, but wildlife like this do not often thrive as pets without specialist care, and certainly should not be treated as photographic props. To dissuade local people from using animals in this way, you should not avail yourself of their services.

Bringing Back Holiday Souvenirs

We all like to bring back something from our holidays that will remind us of our trip, but we need to be careful not to bring back ornaments or souvenirs that are made from animals. In fact it is illegal to import some items like ivory, and coral. Although coral jewellery may look pretty, it comes at too high a cost to the environment. Similarly leopard skin, crocodile and alligator skin, lizard and snakeskin, certain conch shells, and some Chinese medicine that is made from animal products are all illegal to bring into this country. Tortoiseshell and turtle products may look attractive but are also banned as wildlife products. Think carefully about the souvenirs you see abroad and try to make sure none of them are made from animal products.

Holidays are about having fun, but we need to make sure our enjoyment is not at the expense of wildlife. It's not hard to avoid harming animals and still have a good time. And if you feel you are missing out on seeing or interacting with wild animals, contact a wildlife preservation group and see if there are ways you can help protect animals as well as enjoying them in their natural environment.

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