I’ve lost count of the amount of times that friends have sent me photos of people that I know involved in the terrible wildlife tourism trade that is in the media so much these days, and how many times that I have wanted to write ranting long comments on those social media photos, asking them what the hell they’re doing! – but I don’t believe this is the most productive way of changing people’s views and actions.
And yes it is my self-appointed job to educate the unknowledgeable about what is really going on, how those animals really got there, and explain that the money that they have just paid is the reason that these facilities are still running, but I also understand that we are all human, and if we are not given the information in which to educate ourselves then we simply cannot and will not learn.
I’m sure that 90% of people would not choose to take part in these cruel tourist attractions such as elephant rides, swimming with dolphins, and cub petting, to name a few, if they knew the truth behind them.
My dream is for the day that I do not have to comment on people’s inhumane photographs because there will be none. These industries will become obsolete.
I am not here to shame you into feeling guilty about what you have done in the past, I want to influence your decisions for the future. I am here as a voice for those creatures who cannot speak our language and get their own message out that we need to work together and protect all species on this planet.
I have ridden on an elephant, I have been to establishments where animals were taken from their parent’s at a young age to provide entertainment, I have watched sealife shows, I have been to an animal circus.
This does not make me a hypocrite, because at the time, like you, I was not aware of the truth about what goes on to create these entertainment facilities. We are all fed lies from qualified professionals so, being none the wiser, we have had no reason to doubt them.
Seeing a huge elephant standing on that circus stage erupted something inside me, that at the time my 7-year-old self didn’t understand. I knew there was something very wrong with the situation when, even though I had been obsessed with elephants since a very young age, now that I had to chance to see one up close, to feel his wrinkly skin, to sit on his broad back, I did not want to go anywhere near him. I remember looking around very bleakly and with inner annoyance at the hundreds of tourists queuing to hold the 2-week old tiger cub that was being passed around the audience.
At this time the internet was not as accessible as it is today, we did not have the real opportunity for ‘ordinary’ people to get a message out to the world as we do now through social media and blogging.
We need to grab these opportunities for all that they give us!
The world is changing, and we need to change with it. Now there is no excuse, we DO know about the truth behind these terrible industries, so make the right decision.
If things such as elephant rides, swimming with dolphins or selfies with cubs are still on your bucketlist, ask yourself why?
Would you rather be showing those photos to your grandchildren in 50 years time, explaining that this was an animal that is now extinct and that they will never be able to gaze upon with their own eyes as you once did, or would you rather venture on a safari and explain how that same animal lives with its own family in the wilds of contentment, where it belongs?
The choice is yours, but make it now, before it’s too late.