Travel platform TripAdvisor—and its subsidiary Viator—announced this week additions to its policies on animal exploitation. In October 2016, the company introduced a policy to ban ticket sales to attractions where tourists would come in contact with potentially exploited animals, including elephant rides, dolphin swims, and tiger-petting zoos. The new, full policy outlines that the company will not support “specific experiences where captive wild or endangered animals are forced to perform demeaning tricks or other unnatural behaviours in front of the general public, or where they are featured as part of a live circus or stage entertainment act in a demeaning manner (including imitating humans, such as dressing up in costume).” However, TripAdvisor clarified that it will continue to sell of tickets to attractions it classifies as “educational” such as interacting with spiders, horseback riding, children’s petting zoos, and aquarium touch pools. The platform explained it would support attractions where animals were allowed to “freely disengage” from tourists and are supervised by trained professionals. “The changes we’ve announced today reflect our ongoing commitment to help drive positive change within the tourism industry,” TripAdvisor Head of Industry Relations Sally Davey said. “Tourist activities have a huge impact on wild animals around the world, and while that impact can often be positive, such as helping to fund important conservation efforts, it can be negative too.” Tracy Reiman, Executive Vice President for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), told VegNews that TripAdvisor’s current policy is not sufficient to ensure that animals are not exploited in the tourism industry. “The policy currently includes some archaic shows that force animals to perform tricks, but PETA is confident that there will be stricter, more animal-friendly policies in the not-too-distant future,” Reiman said. “When animals are held captive, treated as objects to be used for human amusement, and pressed into involuntary servitude, they lose everything, including the most precious of things: their freedom.”
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