TripAdvisor, one of the world’s biggest travel websites, is used by the average of 455 million unique visitors per month. Unfortunately, this huge number of users is being presented with countless offers which promote animal cruelty. Despite the website’s animal welfare policy, according to David Neale, Animals Asia Animal Welfare Director, the company carries on as “one of the biggest enablers of animal cruelty in the world.”

In 2016, TripAdvisor announced that the website would no longer sell tickets for activities allowing contact with wild animals. This sounds like a great development – and certainly is so in theory – but the problem lies in the fact that the move did not change much and the company is not going far enough to protect the animals it claims to care about.

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It is true that TripAdvisor does not sell tickets for facilities enabling tourism-based cruelty, but it still allows them to be listed on their website. Needless to say, this practice has nothing to do with actual protection of animals used around the world for human entertainment and is clearly in conflict with the values that the website would like to be associated with.

“If you want to swim with dolphins captured from the wild and kept in tiny pools, you can find an operator on TripAdvisor. If you’d like to take a selfie of yourself with wild animals such as vulnerable baby bears or drugged tigers, TripAdvisor will tell you how,” Neale explained.

Defending their doings, TripAdvisor claimed that customer reviews will tell other potential travelers which facilities are cruel or unethical. This, however, unfortunately, does not work. For example, Thailand’s notorious Tiger Temple which was closed by the authorities and whose tigers were illegally trafficked and slaughtered for consumption – has 75 percent positive reviews on the website! The fact is, there is not enough education being done and much of the animal abuse that goes on in these facilities is artfully hidden from public view.

As much as we are morally obliged to make conscious choices about what facilities and activities we support, it simply cannot be the public’s responsibility to police the activities in question and, often, it is even impossible to do so. “The public can’t be expected to be experts. TripAdvisor – just like any other travel agent – must be responsible for the content on its own site,” Neale emphasized. If you know the truth, it is your duty to share it. Click here to sign Animals Asia’s petition for TripAdvisor to stop promoting animal cruelty and start investing resources in policing their site!

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