TripAdvisor Takes a Stand for Animal Welfare

TripAdvisor Takes a Stand for Animal Welfare

TripAdvisor, the popular travel website, has stopped selling tickets to events that are viewed as animal cruelty.1 In response to pressure from animal advocate groups, the directors of TripAdvisor announced that by early 2017, no tickets will be sold to events that exploit animals without any educational value.2 These activities frequently involve humans “coming into physical contact with” captive or endangered species.3 This decision expands on the company’s current policy, which prohibits events that involving killing or harming animals.3

Events that fall under the new policy’s exclusion criterion include those such as petting tigers or other large cats, swimming with dolphins, and riding elephants.2 Although these interactions may appear harmless to tourists, behind-the-scenes training of these animals can involve abuse. For example, elephants are often beaten and kept in cages while being taught to carry tourists in a painful process called “the training crush.”1 Tigers are often sedated with tranquilizing drugs for tourist pictures, and the stress levels of captive dolphins are increased due to their inability to play and explore as they would in the wild.1

“This animal abuse is a hidden by-product of the tourism industry,” said Steve McIvor, CEO of World Animal Protection.1 To McIvor, the change in the TripAdvisor policy will not only decrease cruel treatment of animals, but also send a message to its users that such abuse exists and hopefully create a desire to stop such abuse by not enabling them to participate in these events.1

Many key attraction sites now excluded from TripAdvisor are concerned about their businesses after TripAdvisor’s new policy announcements. Mary Stella, marketing director of The Dolphin Research Center, said that TripAdvisor’s decision ignores the fact that interaction with marine animals can often prompt tourists to support conservation efforts.4

Barbara Messing, TripAdvisor’s chief marketing officer, stated in response that there is “no universal standard” to what constitutes animal abuse, so the company will rely on the expertise of conservation groups and animal scientists to inform their policies going forward.3

TripAdvisor, for example, will not enact policies aligned with all the beliefs of large animal-right groups, such as PETA, which opposes all activities in which animals are held for profit.5 For example, events with educational or scientific value, such as zoos, aquariums, and safari parks, will remain on the Trip Advisor site.3

TripAdvisor and most animal-rights groups hope that these and future changes will create a ripple effect throughout the travel industry and promote conservation and protection efforts globally.5



  1. Bale, Rachael. “TripAdvisor Halts Ticket Sales to Cruel Wildlife Attractions.” Published October 12, 2016.

  2.  Martin, Hugo. “TripAdvisor to Stop Selling Tickets to Attractions where Animals and Humans Interact.” Published October 13, 2016.

  3. Sachs, Andrea. “With a Wildlife-attractions Ban, TripAdvisor takes an Animal Welfare Stand.” Published October 13, 2016.

  4. “Key Attractions are Concerned about TripAdvisor Decision.” Published October 30, 2016.\

  5. Sablich, Justin. “TripAdvisor to Stop Selling Tickets to Many Animal Attractions.” Published October 11, 2016.

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