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Wed Jun 5, 2019, 01:55 AM

National Geographic Expose -- Suffering unseen: The dark truth behind wildlife tourism

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People travel to exotic lands and pay $5 - $10 to ake photos next to wild animals -- tortured animals.

Although they look good in the photos, those people are often unaware of the abuse the animals are subjected to.


Wildlife tourism isn’t new, but social media is setting the industry ablaze, turning encounters with exotic animals into photo-driven bucket-list toppers. Activities once publicised mostly in guidebooks now are shared instantly with multitudes of people by selfie-taking backpackers, tour-bus travellers, and social media “influencers” through a tap on their phone screens. Nearly all millennials (23- to 38-year-olds) use social media while traveling. Their selfies—of swims with dolphins, encounters with tigers, rides on elephants, and more—are viral advertising for attractions that tout up-close experiences with animals.

For all the visibility social media provides, it doesn’t show what happens beyond the view of the camera lens. People who feel joy and exhilaration from getting close to wild animals usually are unaware that many of the animals at such attractions live a lot like Meena, or worse.
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Around the world Kirsten and I watched tourists watching captive animals. In Thailand we also saw American men bear-hug tigers in Chiang Mai and Chinese brides in wedding gowns ride young elephants in the aqua surf on the island of Phuket. We watched polar bears in wire muzzles ballroom dancing across the ice under a big top in Russia and teenage boys on the Amazon River snapping selfies with baby sloths.

Most tourists who enjoy these encounters don’t know that the adult tigers may be declawed, drugged, or both. Or that there are always cubs for tourists to snuggle with because the cats are speed bred and the cubs are taken from their mothers just days after birth. Or that the elephants give rides and perform tricks without harming people only because they’ve been “broken” as babies and taught to fear the bullhook. Or that the Amazonian sloths taken illegally from the jungle often die within weeks of being put in captivity.

https://www.nationalgeographic.co.uk/dark-truth-behind-wildlife-tourism



It's a long read, covering many tourist attractions in various countries, with multiple sub-titled photographs.

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