Bellevue-based Expedia has ceased offering elephant rides and other exotic animal attractions through its travel service.
“By taking a stand against the abuse of animals for entertainment who suffer at elephant camps and these tiger petting facilities, Expedia is setting a clear example in the travel industry that PETA hopes and is very confident more companies will follow,” said Stephanie Shaw with PETA.
Expedia announced this week that it will no longer offer “certain wildlife animal interactions” through its online travel service. The company said it made its decision “relying on guidance from industry-leading wildlife and animal protection groups.” Groups like PETA.
Expedia is taking the move one step further and has committed itself to educate travelers about animal welfare. Now, customers seeking animal-related activities will find information about wildlife tourism.
“Expedia can play an integral part in educating travelers about the diverse views related to wildlife tourism, so they can make informed decisions that align with how they travel and how they interact with the animals that share our planet,” said Jen O’Twomney, vice president, Expedia Local Expert. “As travelers, it is important that we know more about the places we go, the activities we engage in, and the ways in which we leave lasting impacts on our destinations. As we help people go places, we want to help them do it thoughtfully, and responsibly.”
In this case, it’s animal attractions commonly seen on friends’ social media feeds — petting tigers, hanging out with bears, or riding elephants. What may not be known to many travelers is that in order to get wild animals to safely engage with humans, they have to be severely trained. PETA argues that this training is unethical.
“These tiger, lions, and bear cubs that are commonly used for photo opportunities as petting props are prematurely torn from their mothers, sometimes immediately after birth and are trained to tolerate human contact,” Shaw said. “To force elephants to give rides, trainers use extreme physical and psychological punishment. The only way to convince an elephant to give a ride is through physical violence and psychological domination.”