Your travel selfie may be an animal’s nightmare

Going on holiday can mean visiting exotic destinations. And at exotic destinations you may find the urge to go to see animals that are typical for that area. Unfortunately in many places, such tourist attractions exploit the animals for financial gain. Sadly many are not aware of this and continue giving such attractions rave reviews online which in turn keeps the tourist flow ongoing.

Elephant shows, rides or treks.

Close encounters with cheetahs, leopards and tigers.

Crocodile shows.

Dolphin and whale shows.

Zoos where animals are kept in cages.

All of these I try to steer clear of.

I cannot say that I have never visited these kinds of attractions. I am ashamed to say that I have even taken my money to them! I have seen animals in terrible states all around the world and have done nothing about it. I cannot say I am any better than the next person. But maybe this post will even make someone more aware of the sad state of some of these animals used as tourist attractions.


Elephants – who doesn’t adore them? But do you know what the elephant has to endure in order to do the tricks man requests of it? A wild elephant would not curtsey let alone allow a man ride it. The brutality starts from when the elephant is a baby – first taken away from it’s mommy, tied up in chains or confined in a small space. The trainer goes on to torture the helpless baby for days on end in order to break it’s spirit. Sharp bull-hooks are used to pierce the elephants skin in it’s most sensitive areas, clubs are used to beat him up. Whose spirit wouldn’t wane? After the elephants’ spirit has been broken, the torture does not stop there. The bull-hook will be used with a harsh hand from here onwards in order to teach the tricks required and make the elephant obey. You can just imagine what pain this causes on an animal which can even feel a fly land on it’s skin.

How about elephant rides? Avoid at all costs. In addition to the elephants spirit being broken horrifically, the elephants spines are not built for riding and can cause terrible health problems. You should avoid these rides or treks even for your own safety. An animal that has been tortured, is not of said mind and can snap in an instant. The newest trend seems to be elephant massage. You can already guess my thoughts on that.

It can be tempting if someone comes up to you and asks you if you would like to pet a leopard or pose with a tiger. Yes, of course you would – wouldn’t your friends be impressed if you could show them photos of you petting a cheetah? These guys are not doing it for you or for the animal – they are into making a quick buck. And why should you not follow him? Because no leopard or tiger in their right mind would let you come near them. The only way these animals will come close to a human is that they have been drugged to do so.

Another form of cruelty are crocodile shows. The crocodiles on show are poked and stabbed with sticks all over their bodies and inside their mouths. They are pulled and dragged from their tails. And what does the crocodile do? Just lies there. That is NOT normal. Crocodiles are dangerous. The crocodile has been sedated to endure this torture for hours a day.

I remember visiting  whale shows when I was a child and I even took my own children to see dolphin shows in Finland. Now I know not to. These majestic animals are kept cramped in small tanks which causes stress. They are again and again forced to perform tricks for tourists. Captivity causes severe psychological and physical problems. It goes without saying that an attraction advertising swimming with dolphins should not be happening either.

Zoos.. there are many kinds of zoos around the world. Some are actually preserving the animals which are about to be extinct. Sadly, others don’t really care. Personally I am vary of all zoos because animals are not meant to be living in captivity. But if you are going to visit them – do not go to zoos where animals are in small enclosures or small cages. These animals are miserable. In the wild, they have huge open spaces to roam around in – not 5×5 concrete spaces where you need to turn around after a few steps.

Something to remember is that if an attraction says it’s a sanctuary – in reality it might not be. If the animals are made to do tricks, give rides or are made to obey using instruments that inflict pain, then that is not a sanctuary of any kind.


I am sorry if I made you uncomfortable with this post. It could be that you will continue visiting these attractions. However, I hope next time you are planning your dream holiday, you will think a moment before booking that elephant trek or a swim with the dolphin.


The photos featured in this post were taken at The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, Nairobi, Kenya. If you are interested, you can read more about it from the National Geographic.

“The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust embraces all measures that compliment the conservation, preservation and protection of wildlife. These include anti-poaching, safe guarding the natural environment, enhancing community awareness, addressing animal welfare issues, providing veterinary assistance to animals in need, rescuing and hand rearing elephant and rhino orphans, along with other species that can ultimately enjoy a quality of life in wild terms when grown.”

6 thoughts on “Your travel selfie may be an animal’s nightmare

  1. Thank you for sharing! I would have to agree and generally I do avoid this types of attractions, especially in more recent years. I visited the Australia Zoo, famous because of Steve Irwin, and I thought there animal shows were there to educate and inform people.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. How was the Australia zoo? I think the Helsinki zoo is also doing important work to prevent extinction, which is great. But still.. I’m no fan of zoos..


      1. I think the animals were given a lot of freedom and they weren’t there as an attraction. Since Steve Irwin died I think the vision has changed and people are worried it will move towards a more American theme park, which isn’t good. Now I try to avoid these places but, like we have said, for some people this is their only chance to see some of these animals.

        Liked by 1 person

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