After working with PETA, international hospitality company Airbnb announced the launch of new policy guidelines governing its Animal Experiences, which ban direct-contact activities that abuse and exploit wild animals!
Airbnb Experiences are bookable tours and activities, designed and led by local experts. While Airbnb has excluded elephant rides from its tourism experiences for some time now, the new policy prohibits other encounters that cause animals harm, such as photo ops with tiger cubs, swimming with dolphins, and other experiences involving marine-mammal captivity (which includes you, SeaWorld!).
When discussing elephant rides, Airbnb noted that “captive elephants go through a stressful training process to be able to interact with humans. Often elephants are restrained, bullhooks are used, and they are overworked.”
In major tourist destinations such as India and Thailand, handlers steal baby elephants from their mothers, then tie them down and beat them so severely that the babies bleed and scream. Abusers break elephants’ spirits in order to force them to perform ridiculous tricks, give rides to tourists, or allow humans to interact with them.
After working with PETA, Airbnb has not only unveiled a new, more robust animal welfare policy in its Animal Experiences bookings category but also donated $100,000 to PETA’s campaigns to help shut down exploitative wildlife tourism.
“Airbnb is committed to promoting responsible animal tourism, and this support is provided in recognition of PETA’s ongoing work to protect animal welfare and all of PETA’s innovative and effective programs to advance empathy and end animal suffering,” says Airbnb Experiences Policy Director Natalia Merluzzi.
PETA looks forward to putting Airbnb’s generous donation to good use! PETA will also continue working with the company to evolve its policies further around protecting animals from abusive and exploitative attractions.
We can sleep better at night, knowing that Airbnb has raised the bar on compassionate tourism, and PETA urges others in the industry to follow its example.
Experts claim that more than half a million exotic animals are enslaved worldwide in the tourism industry. From selfies with tigers to elephant rides, these activities hurt animals more than you may realize.
No one should partake in tiger cub interactions, for which many babies are torn away from their mothers and denied everything that’s natural and important to them. What tiger exploiters don’t tell you is that tigers too big for “handling” are often kept inside cramped cages, where they’re deprived of exercise, enrichment, and adequate veterinary care.
Likewise, marine-mammal exhibitors force sensitive, intelligent animals to endure a lifetime inside tanks that are to them the equivalent of bathtubs. In the open ocean, wild orcas and other dolphins live in large, complex social groups and swim vast distances every day. In captivity, they can only swim in endless circles and are forced to perform meaningless tricks for humans. Most die far short of their natural life expectancy.
Show this to anyone who wants to pay to swim with dolphins. pic.twitter.com/uPDAniWTPm
— PETA (@peta) September 26, 2016
At parks offering “swim with dolphins” experiences, dolphins are denied opportunities to express natural behavior. Whereas they would swim up to 60 miles a day in the ocean, in captivity, they’re confined to cramped tanks or polluted sea pens and forced to interact with humans, which is highly stressful and potentially harmful to them. Many die prematurely from the stress of confinement. Well-meaning tourists support this industry, but you can help by telling everyone you know to avoid attractions such as SeaWorld and “swim with dolphins” experiences.
There’s no shortage of animal-friendly activities for compassionate tourists to choose from. Travelers can observe animals from a safe distance in their natural homes or at nature preserves and can even visit reputable sanctuaries. Take photos of sea lions sunbathing in their natural habitat, or attend an animal-free circus. If there’s any chance that your experience will hurt an animal, it’s not worth it!
What You Can Do to Help End Animal-Exploitative Tourism
PETA is doing everything that we can to protect animals from the abuse and neglect common in the entertainment industry, and now you have a special chance to help us accomplish even more. Donate right now and your gift will be matched, dollar for dollar, thanks to a special $100,000 gift from Airbnb.