Investigation Reveals There Are No Ethical Animal Tourism Facilities In Bali

Investigation Reveals There Are No Ethical Animal Tourism Facilities In Bali

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The international animal welfare organization World Animal Protection has released the findings of their latest investigation into the conditions at animal tourism facilities in Bali and Lombok.

The findings are shocking and come with renewed guidelines for tourists wishing to have encounters with wildlife while traveling in Bali. 

World Animal Protection has conducted an in-depth study of the leading animal tourism facilities in Bali and Lombok.

The findings of the investigation have informed the NGO’s latest educational campaign called Holidays That Harm.

The campaign is designed to help tourists make informed decisions about the facilities they choose to visit during their vacations. 

While social media and targeted marketing have romanticized encounters with wildlife, the reality of the animals involved in these activities is often bleak at best.

The Head of Campaigns at World Animal Protection spoke with the media about the conclusions of the investigation.

Suzanne Milthorpe made it abundantly clear to animal lovers planning their visits to Bali that should they should think twice before visiting venues promoting animals for entertainment.

Milthrope explained ‘What we found was no wildlife entertainment venue in Bali met good welfare standards for animals in captivity, and most didn’t even meet the basic needs.”

The investigation assessed twenty-six animal tourism venues across Bali and Lombok which are responsible for the care and welfare of over 1,300 animals. According to the findings of the investigation, “nearly all did not meet the most basic needs of the animals held captive.” 

Ten of the venues assessed during the undercover investigation are categorized as wildlife entertainment venues and include Mason Elephant Lodge, Bali Zoo, Bali Safari Marine Park, and Bali Exotic Marine Park.

All of which failed to reach the scrupulous animal welfare standards laid out by the biologists, veterinarians, and animal welfare specialists at World Animal Protection.

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The animals kept in captivity for tourist entertainment in Bali include: “92 Asian elephants, 21 orangutans, 25 gibbons, 16 tigers, 9 dolphins, 45 civets, 40 turtles and tortoises, 18 bears (both Asiatic and Malaysian sun bears), 18 binturongs (bearcats), 20 crocodiles, over 1,000 birds, and over 1,000 other wild animals of various species, plus hundreds of free-ranging monkeys and around ten free-ranging dolphins.”

Popular animal entertainment activities in Bali include elephant riding, bathing, and photoshoots, orangutan interactions such as feeding and selfie sessions, as well as feeding dolphins, tiger shows, and handling endangered turtles, pangolins, and exotic birds.

Milthorpe has reminded the public that some facilities in Bali are “masquerading” as sanctuaries or rescue facilities; some facilities may have rescued their animals in one form or another, but the animals are not living a life of sanctuary freedom, nor are being prepared for wild release.

Each venue visited by the investigators from World Animal Protection was assessed based on a wide range of criteria.

This includes each animal’s freedom of movement, ability to socially interact, hygiene of captive habitat, nutrition, the conditions of the wider environment, level of tourist interaction, and animal management, which includes the way in which keepers interact with the animals, and provision of adequate veterinary care.

The findings of the investigation conducted in 2023 come after World Animal Protection’s landmark study of animal entertainment facilities across Asia in 2017.

The investigation gained huge attention internationally and played a significant role in educating tourists about the horrors associated with elephant riding, tiger selfies, dolphin shows, civet cat coffee experiences, and encounters with primates such as orangutans. 

World Animal Protection has compared the results of the 2017 investigation at the same venues in Bali and Lombok with disappointing results.

The organization writes, “Overall, there was no meaningful or significant improvement in the recorded and observed welfare conditions for wildlife in entertainment in Bali and Lombok in just over five years since the last report. Our investigation showed that wild animals are still predominantly suffering from inadequate conditions.”

The report concludes, “The conditions for wildlife in tourism venues in Bali and Lombok continue to be deeply concerning, with the welfare of many animals severely compromised and no substantial improvement evident since 2017.”

The organization acknowledges how hard it can be for tourists to know what is and isn’t an ethical, reputable, or even humane venue to visit, with so much investment into marketing and creative storytelling leaving tourists in the dark about the conditions faced by the captive animals of Bali and Lombok.

The report states, “The findings of our report indicate that currently, there is no responsible way for tourists to see wildlife in Bali and Lombok.”

“Even opportunities to see free-ranging wildlife, such as macaques and dolphins, are not currently responsibly managed and should be avoided.”

Adding, “Humane-washing and the unpredictable impact of overtourism at key venues and attractions make it hard for tourists to gain reliable information on animal welfare prior to visiting a venue.” 

So what does this mean for tourists planning their trips to Bali?

Well, the decision fundamentally lies with each individual tourist.

World Animal Protection has published its findings in an accessible and easy-to-read report titled Holidays That Harm.

The organization has a list of approved venues across Asia where tourists can rest assured that they are supporting a facility that affords not only the utmost care to their animals but to their staff and the environment. 

The report includes in-depth details of the findings of each venue assessment and seven easy tips for being a wildlife-friendly tourist. The full report can be read here. 

Investigation Reveals There Are No Ethical Animal Tourism Facilities In Bali

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