Seeing animals in the wild is one of the coolest experiences on this earth – especially if they are not animals we see every day. Wild animals are so breathtaking that people book special trips just for a chance to see them in their natural habitat. Think of how many people visit Africa just to see the incredible wildlife in its many countries or how many coastal cities offer snorkeling and whale watching as attractions. Wild animals are a sight to see, but they all play a part in our delicate ecosystem. That’s why it’s important to be well informed and careful when you do see a wild animal.
1. Only Go on Vacations Where You Can See Animals on Their Turf
David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust/Facebook
Animal tourism is huge, even though animal entertainment opportunities are oftentimes exploitative and abusive to the animals. Luckily, compassionate people are starting to understand the dark side of animal tourism and entertainment. If people didn’t speak up, SeaWorld wouldn’t have stopped breeding orcas and Ringling Bros. would have never retired all its elephants. While we are making progress, there are many businesses profiting off wild animal captivity and entertainment. If you’re planning a vacation and want to see the wildlife that destination offers, only book experiences that keep the animals in their natural habitat. Whale watching expeditions and visiting credible wildlife sanctuaries and refuges, on protected land are two options that offer the benefit of seeing incredible animals in the wild and keeping animals safe in their natural habitat.
It is best to see animals this way as opposed to animals in captivity. Tours and trips with experts to see animals in their habitat is the safest route to go for animal lovers. If you are looking for a more up-close experience, opt for organizations that take in injured or rescued animals instead of zoos and special attractions.
Research is the most important thing to do before attempting to see wild animals. Tourism is a big industry, but one that could be hurting the animals. Consider how your experience will affect the animals and their habitats. Is spotting a unique animal in the wild worth the cost of the species? It’s an important question to ask yourself before you search out these wildlife opportunities.
2. No Matter How Cute They Are, These Animals Are Not Like Your Pets at Home
Just because an animal looks fuzzy, cute and cuddly, doesn’t mean it wants anything to do with your advances. The honey badger is adorable! But we all know not to mess with one. Koalas look like the perfect cuddle buddies, but even those real-life teddy bears can turn aggressive when provoked. Wild animals rely on instincts to protect them and they have no idea what your intentions are, no matter how non-threatening you try to appear. While the animals that share our homes still have a trace of their wild instincts, they are human-friendly due to years of domestication – a big difference between their wild compatriots. So no matter how cute these wild animals look, keep yourself a good distance from them.
3. Don’t Feed Wild Animals
Yeah, you’ve heard this before, but it’s always important to be reminded of why feeding wild animals is dangerous for everyone involved. Part of wild animals’ allure is that they are unpredictable. It is also the reason why you should keep a safe distance from them. By hand feeding them, you are leaving yourself vulnerable to an untrained animal. This rule also applies to the animal’s safety. If a wild animal consistently associates humans with a food source, they will not fear humans as potential predators.
A recent example is Hollywood, the protected elk that was killed by poachers in a wildlife preserve. He was famous for being calm and friendly around people and allowing children to feed him, thus trusting the poachers. While it’s special to interact with a wild animal, it’s important to remember that there are people out there who do not view animals the way we do. For us to best protect them from hunters and poachers, we need to stay away from them and interfering with their protective instincts.
Helping Wildlife One Choice at a Time
There is a major disconnect between the type of entertainment we choose and the impact on wild animals, but we all have the power to close this gap for the betterment of all species. With these simple tips in mind, you can ensure that you aren’t inadvertently causing harm to animals – and you’re sure to have an enriching, wonderful experience that fosters a much deeper appreciation for the beings we share the planet with.
So Green Monsters, have you tried any of these things? Let us know in the comments!
Lead image source: Zhukova Valentyna/Shutterstock