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Twycross Zoo urges travellers to boycott inhumane animal activities on their Summer Holidays

With UK schools broken up for the summer holidays, airports across the UK are preparing for the busy Summer of travel.

Whilst holiday-goers are thinking about relaxing, making family memories and even ticking off those special moments from the bucket list, we are calling for all travellers to take a moment to understand the tragic impact that innocent-looking souvenirs, mementos or experiences can have on animals, and to join us in making a stand, to help stop bad practise and to protect our planet.

One of the most heart-breaking and inhumane threats to species across the world is poaching and trophy hunting, the shooting of selected animals – frequently rhinos, elephants and lions – for pleasure. The trophy is the animal or part of the animal such as head or skin that the hunter keeps as a souvenir. As many as 1.7 million trophies were legally traded between 2004 and 2014 and around 200,000 were from threatened species – of which 2,500 were brought home by British hunters.

As well as trophy hunting, there are many animal-related tourist activities that holiday-goers take part in, unknowingly supporting the mistreatment of animals, some of them critically endangered species.

  • Big cat encounters with opportunities to take photos touching and sitting next to these endangered animals, often heavily sedated
  • Elephant “Sanctuaries” that encourage riding these giant creatures, often living in severely cruel conditions
  • Shopping for souvenirs and trinkets. A simple keyring that you might not even think is made from ivory, a necklace made from turtle shell or a hand-bag made from alligator

Dr Sharon Redrobe OBE, CEO of Twycross Zoo said: “We are urgently calling on the support of holiday-goers this Summer to make their mark for conservation.

Collectively the world is not doing enough to stop the mistreatment of animals particularly in popular holiday destinations and it is down to us all to work together and make a stand.

At Twycross Zoo we’ve learnt a lot over the last 20-30 years about animal welfare and are passionate advocates of not exploiting animals. The role of zoos is to conserve endangered species by being part of pivotal breeding programmes, educating the public on conservation and helping to prevent their population decline.

The ultimate goal of any modern zoo or breeding programme is to have a genetically healthy population, if required, to repopulate the wild. We have already shown that together we can all make a difference but the hard work must continue.”

Twycross Zoo is advising holiday-goers about what choices to make on their travels how they can help to protect vulnerable animals and species. The midlands zoo is calling everyone to read and share these 6 responsible tips:

  1. Do Your Homework

Research and think carefully about your holiday experiences in advance of booking your trip, particularly if you are planning to take park in animal related excursions or activities.

Look at photos from previous visitors to see what to expect.

  1. Challenge Your Travel Operator

If you are planning to book animal related excursions or activities ask lots of questions with your travel operator before you book, such as:

  • How does the organisation contribute to supporting conservation?

This is a good indicator of the intentions of the organisation – is it just a money-making opportunity or are they supporting the conservation of the species

  • Do you offer interactions with the animals?

We advise to seek experiences that observe animals in their natural behaviours

  • How are the animals looked after?
    Ask if they have any policies that you can see before booking the experience or testimonials of positive animal welfare.
  • Does your travel operator recommend the experience?

Not all animal related experiences on holiday are bad but asking the right questions is vital.

  1. Just Say No
    Some experiences are an instant no, particularly ones that are not allowing the animals to show their natural behaviours.
  • Tiger Selfie Opportunities – these animals are extremely dangerous and would not typically allow you to get up close to pose for a photo. More than likely the animal has been sedated to allow this which is appalling animal welfare. The social media photo is not worth it.
  • Riding An Elephant – thought of as a cultural experience for tourist, but this isn’t the case. One or multiple people riding on the back of an elephant can cause health issues, exhaustion and often these giant creatures are handled cruelly or living in inadequate conditions.
  • Dancing Bears, photos with primates and snake charmers – the animals are usually chained and trained to do this activity, it is not by choice and they are often neglected. Don’t pay to watch these unnatural behaviours.
  1. If You’re Not Sure, Don’t Buy It
    Some innocent looking souvenirs like keyrings, handbags and jewellery can sometimes be made of animals and these animals are often hunted to support this trade.

Look out items like

  • Ivory models and keyrings,
  • Alligator-skin, snake or sting ray handbags
  • Hair clips and jewellery made from turtle shell
  • Animal fur products
  • Jewellery made from insects

Question the retailer before purchasing something you are not sure of. And if you are still not sure that the item isn’t made from an animal product, don’t buy it.

  1. Leave Shells On The Beach

Shells and coral are a vital part of the eco-system with lots of oceanic wildlife needed them both for their habitat or food. Leave that beautiful shell for a hermit crab to take residence!

  1. Don’t Be Fooled By Names

There are now many resorts classed as “Eco-resorts” or “Eco-experiences” or “Sanctuaries”. Whilst many of these can have strong eco-credentials many are using this term to enhance their marketing efforts.  Ask for policies and proof of their work to know that they are credible.

Award-winning conservation charity, Twycross Zoo recently welcomed two Critically Endangered Sumatran tigers who are part of a vital European breeding programme. This programme aims to help to preserve the population of the species which currently consists of less than 400 individuals left in the wild.

Tigers in the wild are subjected to threats of poaching, in addition to being exploited for the holiday tourism industry. Without taking action critically endangered species like the Sumatran tiger will become extinct.

Twycross Zoo is open 364 days a year and relies on the generosity of its visitors to support its conservation work. For more information, or to buy tickets to visit this Summer Holidays, please visit www.twycrosszoo.org.

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