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Animals, Attractions & Tourism

One of the most wonderful things about travel is getting the chance to see new and interesting animals. While So many countries have a lot of great native animals, seeing an adorable little animal by the roadside is vastly different from spotting a huge elephant in the Thai jungle with a saddle strapped to its back. With the wonder of these animals comes the lure of interacting with them and, in many countries, savvy locals have seen this as a money-making opportunity. At first glance, these attractions may seem harmless but dig a little deeper and what really happens is quite heartbreaking.

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 publicized mostly in guidebooks now are shared instantly with multitudes of people by selfie-taking backpackers, tour-bus travelers, 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 are up-close experiences with animals.

I actually help animals. I have been to an elephant sanctuary in Thailand where we just have mud baths to them and fed them. A sloth sanctuary where the sloths actually lived in the wild and a we were able to hold them while to trainers gently lifted the sloth to me. I was told not to rock back and forth. Slow movements and not be loud. I thought these are great places right? My first trip to Cancun I swam with the dolphins. I have held starfish for pictures, ran with the Bulls in Spain. I scuba dive but we never touch. I have been to zoo’s where animals are kept in small cages. Where is the line we draw as humans. I’m just asking you to search your heart. What do you feel is actually the right thing to do. We have to do better as people in this world.

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