Every time you travel to a new location you want to see everything that there is to see about this new and exciting place, which not only includes the breathtaking views, cultural experiences, but also the local animals.
We’ve written about the harm that can be unintentionally caused by the popular tourist attractions of elephant riding, taking selfies with tigers, and the dog meat trade in Asia, but how can you, as an educated traveller see animals without causing them harm?
Do your research
Before you visit a country, go online and search for animal sanctuaries or conservation programs in the areas that you will be travelling.
Once you’ve found a few places that you would like to go to, it’s time to delve a bit deeper. Go to their website and see how they’re funded, how the animals are interacted with by visitors, and if they even allow visitors. Due to the rise of eco-tourism and the rising worldwide awareness of the perils of animal tourism, many places are labelling themselves as conservations or sanctuaries even if they are not! So how can you tell the difference?
A good indication of a place to avoid:
- The venue allows visitors in the animal enclosures
- Visitors are encouraged to take selfies
- Visitors are encouraged to interact closely with the animals
- Animals are kept in small cages or enclosures
- There is no transparent history or record of the venue
Places you can visit
The Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre, operated by our charity partner Animals Asia, is not open to the public on a daily basis. They operate Open Day guided tours for supporters on specific days each month. You can see their Open Day Schedule here. They also host Open Days at their China Moon Bear Sanctuary, see their schedule here.
You can also visit Edgar’s Mission in Victoria for a domestic/farm animal experience. See their visitation guidelines here.
Some conservations and sanctuaries have volunteer programs that you can take part in, especially for those who have animal experience, are a vet tech, studying in an animal-related field, or a qualified animal carer.
Many of these amazing organisations are run solely off of donations and benefit greatly from a good volunteer base.
Our charity partner, Soi Dog, welcome volunteers to assist in socialising and caring for the rescued cats and pups at their Phuket shelter. Soi Dog recommend that volunteers spend a month or longer at the shelter because it enables the formation of a closer relationship with the animals. You can also volunteer by giving tours of the shelter and talking with visitors. You can sign the Welfare Protection pledge here.
Check out our calendar for 2017.
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