Jill Robinson, AnimalsAsia Foundation; Lesa Bain, Lindblad Expeditions; Suzanne Milthorpe, World Animal Protection in Auckland last week Jill Robinson, AnimalsAsia Foundation; Lesa Bain, Lindblad Expeditions; Suzanne Milthorpe, World Animal Protection in Auckland last week

Due diligence for animal tourism

The importance of doing due diligence around wildlife tourism and of educating clients to be mindful of attractions that exploit animals was reiterated at events in New Zealand last week.

Presenters at The Natural World showcase in Auckland and Christchurch, organised by Adventure World, and at The Force for Good in Auckland say there are still many operations – some close to home – with questionable practice sthat attract visitors.

Suzanne Milthorpe, head of campaigns at World Animal Protection Australia and New Zealand says dolphin shows, tiger selfies, elephant riding and koala cuddling are all among the activities the organisation would like to see halted.

‘It is important that the trade has a strong, robust policy around this sort of thing and conducts due diligence. Is the place advertised as a sanctuary really a sanctuary?.

‘We always hold Adventure World and The Travel Corporation as among the organisations who are showing what can be done. They provide a model for people.’

Lesa Bain, vice-president sales North America for Lindblad Expeditions says agents are beholden to help educate their clients on the issue of animal welfare.

‘In the past people didn’t see anything wrong with elephant riding and dolphin events. If customers ask about these things the agent should be able to say ‘we don’t sell it and this is why we don’t sell it’. This is not about making people embarrassed if they have done things before – we continue to learn.’

Jill Robinson, founder of AnimalsAsia Foundation, agrees that educating customers is key.

‘Sometimes clients will be shocked and outraged when they hear what is going on.’

Caryn Young, general manager Adventure World says that if agents have any questions at all about an operation they should make sure it is above board and has been properly vetted.

‘It is important to stop selling product if you feel it is exploiting animals.’

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