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The world seems to be full of news of animal abuse and neglect, and people are realizing that the places they once visited are not what they pretended to be. Where does everyone go, now that these places have been proven to be unsuitable for them as well as animals? Fear not! Here is a list of five exploitative “entertainment” activities  that should be avoided, and five excellent humane alternatives. Have fun!

1. A Dog Race? Skip it!

Dog racing is a horrible “sport” in which breeds such as greyhounds are “seriously injured during races. Injuries include severed toes, broken legs, spinal cord paralysis, broken necks and cardiac arrest,” according to the ASPCA.

The Humane Choice: Volunteer at an animal shelter!

Call up your local shelter and find out what their volunteer procedure is. You can even visit the place to meet the staff and see the working conditions. You’ll get to walk dogs, play with the animals, groom them, clean out cages, etc. Even if you can’t physically go to the shelter, you can always collect items they may need like newspapers, blankets, supplies, or even host your own fundraiser.

2. A Petting Zoo? Skip it!

You might just get e-coli from the air in the enclosed spaces where the animals are kept, and there have been many instances where multiple fair-goers or petting zoo visitors got sick, as reported by Marler Clark back in 2002. Even Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) associated petting zoos with outbreaks of Escherichia coli in North Carolina, Florida, and Arizona in 2004 and 2005.

“The National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians (NASPHV) warned in 2013 that animals are more likely to shed pathogens while being exhibited ‘because of stress induced by prolonged transportation, confinement, crowding and increased handling,’” according to Fair and Petting Zoo Safety.

The Humane Choice: Volunteer at a farm animal sanctuary!

By visiting a farm animal sanctuary, you get the chance to socialize with animals that may have faced horrible abuse, and just need to be shown some love. The requisites are almost the same as with animal shelters, so just give your nearby sanctuary a call and find out how you can join them as a volunteer. Find a list of 10 amazing farm animal sanctuaries right here!

3. Safari Park? Skip it!

Going on safari is very different from visiting a safari park because the latter involves visitors driving their own vehicles or vehicles provided by the facility in which they can observe free-roaming animals. The dangers of this are not only to the people within the vehicles, but to the animals themselves when fed from the cars. CAPS (Captive Animals’ Protection Society) even has a page full of various safari parks that have failed to care for their animals.

The Humane Choice: Go camping!

Camping can be done in national/state parks or other natural areas. This is a great way to see animals in their natural habitat, while also being within a range of not getting lost or needing help. Just remember that you are in the animal’s backyard – don’t spook them or make loud noises, and don’t leave behind any trace of your visit. US Parks.com has a great list of national camping and campgrounds, as well as Recreation.gov in which you can type your city or state into the search and look for locations nearby that would suit your trip idea.

4. Marine Park? Skip it!

Ever since “Blackfish” made waves against SeaWorld, marine parks have been facing criticism from the public as to whether they should be allowed to continue showing marine animals. A landmark bill is even set to ban SeaWorld’s orca shows in the state of California. Greece, Hungary, Costa Rica, Chile, Switzerland, and India already have similar bans in place.

The Humane Choice: Go canoeing or kayaking!

There are a number of nature pure places to go canoeing or kayaking such as in the Grand Canyon, the Mississippi River, and even Yosemite! Canoe and Kayak has a great website with various resources so you can find a location to do some great animal – seeing and you can even get wet without an animal having to splash you! Rivers are great vantage points from which you can see wild animals, so keep your eyes alert as you rush past the banks!

5. Movie with animals? Skip it!

Hollywood Reporter’s “Exclusive Investigation: No Animals Were Harmed” lists productions such as HBO’s canceled show “Luck”, “Life of Pi,” “The Hobbit,” “Eight Below,” “Failure to Launch,” and “Pirates of the Caribbean” as movies in which animals were fatally abused.

The Humane Choice: Visit a natural history museum!

Natural history museums are great ways to enjoy animals even though they are long dead. Most museums have stuffed displays in their own sets — read: “dioramas” — that are arranged to look realistic. They replicate locations that the animals may have been in at a specific period of time. You can learn so much about so many different kinds of creatures, and maybe even find some that you never knew existed.

Image source: Farm Sanctuary / Facebook

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18 comments on “5 Humane Ways to Be ‘Entertained’ by Animals Without Exploiting Them”

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11 Months Ago

Nature documentaries are a better way to observe animals than a Hollywood feature film. Observing animals, without the various kinds of activities that exploit them, is the natural and humane way to interact with them.

2 Years Ago

So a petting zoo is somehow worse than a farm animal sanctuary?? Why, because those animals are immune to E coli, etc?? And of COURSE people can just go kayaking etc. Doesn\'t cost way more, it\'s totally not more dangerous....seems my sarcasm is on overdrive right now -_- I\'m all for being kind to animals, but I\'m also for learning more about them. You would not believe the amount of ignorant people who know jack about animals. Zoos etc are the best way for people to learn, since the 99% can\'t afford trips to the native habitats of every animal to study them long enough to learn about them. You\'d think they could Google the info, but people normally don\'t think about the animal until they see it, and even then, they\'d rather not read about them.

2 Years Ago

First off, what kind of idiot recommends that people be "entertained" by animals. Animals are living, breathing, creatures, with feelings, families and emotions. Animals are not put here on this earth for your "entertainment". Secondly, why would you recommend that people go "camping" where they can mistakenly leave out a piece of bread or leftover burger, in the trash can, or fire pit and attract a grizzly bear. You want to see "up-close-and-personal" for "your entertainment"? You\'ll certainly get more than you bargained for on that camp trip. Forget calling 911. Zoos were made possible to save and treat animals that were orphaned, badly hurt or otherwise in need of human intervention. They are an excellent way to let children experience wild animals that they may otherwise never get to see in their lifetime. It\'s a perfect opportunity for parents to teach RESPECT for our wild animals in a safe environment. One bad incident does not mean all Zoos are bad. Teach your children. Respect the animals and let the Zoo keepers do their jobs saving our animals. IF you go camping don\'t leave out the left overs, or papa bear may pay you a visit.

2 Years Ago

This is BS! The best way we can help these animals is through studying them and their habitats. Zoos and Marine Parks bring in millions and spend millions on exactly that. If it weren\'t for the ability of people to get up close and personal to silver backs and killer whales, multitudes of people wouldn\'t be as interested in saving them and their environments.
The best thing we can do isn\'t to shut these shows down, but to enforce tight regulations on their care and treatment of the animals.

2 Years Ago

This article is so biased, it\'s sad....

Iesha Dover
2 Years Ago

another attention grabbing headline with no real thought or research done. Most suggestion deal with the fact that they can\'t handle large numbers of people. Shelter for abused animals need the right number and the right kind of people to volunteer. They do no need 10,000 people a day coming in. These animals need not just casual love and care but real love and care. Animals form bonds and the coming and going of people is part of the stress they experience at zoo. So shifting people from zoos and petting farms is just settting up the same thing under a different name.

In truth large numbers of humans going to the animals natural habit can result in a lot of harm. This year alone we have had a number of stories of people trying to do the right thing but it was totally the wrong thing, thus resulting in animal deaths are our national parks. And skip the safari because people will feed animal from the car, what do you think happens all the time with campers in the wilds.

No I agree some actives really just need to stop with animals as they are just plan exploitative. But there is a fine line to walk, why because we want People to feel connected to wildlife, we want them to care. It is when people feel this connection you can get them to do the right thing for the planet. And we know humans work best with direct interaction so simple films and wildlife shows are not enough to give us what we need.

safari that are well regulated and monitored are most likely your best bet but run into the issue of how do I get a poor person in NY to see these animals and connect and thus care that Elephants in Africa are being hunted illegally? Numbers matter and if only the 1% get to connect you won\'t have what you need to care for the planet as a whole.

In the end may new solutions need to be found but throwing out cheap and easy ill thought articles like this are not the answer.

Chris Edwards
2 Years Ago

We should flip/reverse the zoos. Allow animals to stay in their natural, protected environments and we can enter in remote glass bubbles like Jurassic Park. No contact with animals, no feeding only viewing safely. Someday add cloaking technology to our bubbles so that we don\'t disturb them by our sight. :)

4 Years Ago

A natural history museum..... do you know they killed all those yuoung animals to sell tickets? my god...

Ellen Katz Mass
4 Years Ago

Hey Jenny, from Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary, did you see this? You look fabulous as always!

Christina Bailey
4 Years Ago

Jeff, not everyone believes in God.

Riva O\'Rourke
17 Jul 2016

No, they don\'t. You don\'t have to point it out, either. He is just giving his opinion. Your comment is simply a fact that we al know already, So basically, you are letting us know that you are annoyed by Jeff\'s comment. SO I am commenting to let you know that I am annoyed with yours. My opinion besides, about the ACTUAL topic at hand is, that petting zoos are designed for people, not the animals, and therefore are not done with the right spirit and therefore are basically not good. I believe all animals should be returned to the wild if they can be, and that wild places should be restored and also left as they are.

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