Humane Society International
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and our global arm, Humane Society International (HSI), are the leading animal advocacy organizations seeking a humane world for both people and animals. We are a mainstream force committed to protecting all animals from cruelty, exploitation, and neglect. We work to reduce suffering and improve the lives of all animals by advocating for stronger laws and policies, reducing demand for and trade in wildlife products, combatting animal abuse and investigating animal cruelty, encouraging corporations to adopt animal-friendly policies, conducting animal rescue and emergency response, and providing direct care for thousands of animals. HSI maintains offices in Australia, Belgium (Europe office), Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica (Latin America office), India, the United Kingdom, South Africa (Africa office), and the U.S. (The HSUS) and supports programs in more than 50 countries on nearly every continent.
HSUS and HSI are driving transformational changes to confront wildlife abuse at home and abroad, including programs seeking to end wild animals being kept in private possession and used for entertainment, stop trophy hunting and captive wildlife hunts, save dolphins and sharks from harmful fisheries practices, save whales from whaling, and stamp out the trade in elephant ivory and rhino horn.
Animal Welfare & Tourism
Tourism has great potential to be a positive force for animal protection and conservation. However, misguided tourism can lead to environmental degradation, species imperilment, and animal cruelty. Many travelers do not realize that their tourist dollars may fuel illegal, unethical, or inhumane activities affecting many wild animals. For instance, unscrupulous facilities lure tourists by offering interactive opportunities, such as petting, handling, feeding, playing with, walking with, swimming with, riding on, and posing with wild animals. These activities are unsafe for people and built upon cruel exploitation of animals. In addition, tourists could risk violating local, foreign, or international laws by purchasing products made of protected or imperiled species.
Humane Society International has developed an interactive, web-based Don’t Buy Wild guide to provide tourists with information on commonly encountered products, food, and activities that we recommend avoiding. By using the “power of the pocketbook,” tourists who want to protect wildlife from abuse can have a positive impact on the lives of animals while enjoying their travel experience.
Expedia Joins Forces to Combat Wildlife Abuse
Travelers have many great options for celebrating their love of animals and supporting a humane economy. Unfortunately, travelers are often unaware that many animal attractions and tourist traps involve significant animal suffering, and the animal’s best interests are ignored. As the world’s largest online travel company, Expedia is uniquely positioned to raise public awareness about animal welfare and elevate the travel and tourism industry’s standard on wildlife tourism.
The HSUS and HSI together constitute one of the largest animal protection organizations in the world. By partnering with Expedia, The HSUS and HSI can provide millions of travelers with information and guidance to avoid tourist activities that are harmful to animals or contribute to the illegal wildlife trade. Responsible and ethical travels should have minimal negative impacts on natural areas, wildlife, and local communities while enriching the travelers’ experience and appreciation for nature. Wildlife-based tourism should also increase travelers’ knowledge about wildlife protection and the natural areas that they visit and encounter.
The HSUS and HSI recommend that tourists do research, such as visiting this wildlife education portal before booking a trip or activity to ensure that destinations or tour operators do not exploit wildlife or contribute to wildlife trafficking.
Tips for Responsible Travel
Make your vacations and travel plans wildlife-friendly.
- Don’t buy souvenirs made of wild animal parts like elephant ivory, turtle shells, furs, horns, skins, and others ‒ These products may come from animals captured from the wild, raised in inhumane conditions, slaughtered inhumanely, or from exotic and rare species protected under national or international law.
- Avoid elephant rides ‒ Awareness of the cruelty of elephant rides and performances has grown. Elephant trainers use “bullhooks” (a barbaric device resembling a fireplace poker) to punish and control elephants. These elephants are held captive, typically separated from family members, and subjected to extremely cruel training and prolonged chaining. Elephant rides can also be dangerous for both the public and handlers.
- Avoid animal feeding ‒ Captive wild animals should be fed in a manner that stimulates natural behaviors, such as digging, climbing, foraging, or hunting. Facilities that sell food to the public to feed wild animals cause a host of problems, such as discouraging natural behaviors as well as overfeeding and underfeeding. Further, the public may give the animals harmful foods brought from outside the facility or tease animals with food.
- Avoid wild animal performances ‒ Wild animals are trained using cruel methods to perform unnatural acts for tourists and are kept in extreme confinement.
- Avoid close encounters with wild animals ‒ Tourist attractions around the world offer public contact with baby animals, such as tiger, lion, and bear cubs, primates, sloths, and other wild animals. These interactions are inhumane, dangerous to public health and safety, and detrimental to animal welfare and conservation. When the animals grow too large for public contact, they may be killed, abandoned, or in the case of lions, killed for hunting trophies.
- Avoid swimming with dolphins ‒ In the wild, dolphins live in large family groups with lifelong social bonds. In captivity, dolphins are kept in barren environments that are a tiny fraction of the size of the animals’ natural habitats. Many of the animals in facilities outside of the U.S. were taken from the wild. Captures are extremely traumatizing and the trade in marine mammals negatively impacts wild populations and habitats.
- Avoid unacceptable zoos and aquariums and pseudo-sanctuaries ‒ People who wish to view wildlife in captivity should make certain that they only patronize facilities that provide exceptional care, such as facilities that are accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums or sanctuaries accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries that strictly prohibit breeding and selling animals.