My Animal Welfare Policy

Caroline Joyner on 13 December 2023
My business is committed to responsible tourism and protecting animals who are impacted by the travel industry.

Animal encounters have become increasingly popular as part of people’s holiday experiences, however, in recent years the world has realised that some animal-related activities, such as elephant washing and rides, photo opportunities with tigers or watching dolphins perform, lead to suffering through cruel treatment and inhumane conditions.

We have a company-wide vision that all animals encountered on a Travel Counsellors holiday are free from exploitation, neglect and cruelty. We support an end to the capture of animals from the wild for the purposes of entertainment, and we encourage the conservation of natural habitats and their wildlife.

I believe that all animals should be respected for their intrinsic value and that the best way to experience animals whilst on holiday is by seeing them in the wild. When under human care, both domesticated and non-domesticated (wild) animals, must have ‘a good life’ by enjoying good physical and mental health. The conditions they are provided must favour positive experiences over negative ones within an environment that encourages making choices and enables them to express the widest possible range of natural behaviours.

I only work with suppliers if the animals under their care are provided with the highest possible welfare in line with the Five Domains of Animal Welfare:

1. Nutrition – factors that involve the animal’s access to sufficient, balanced, varied and clean food and water.

2. Environment – factors that enable comfort through temperature, substrate, space, air, odour, noise and predictability.

3. Health – factors that enable good health through the absence of disease, injury, impairment and good fitness level.

4. Behaviour – factors that provide varied, novel and engaging environmental challenges through sensory inputs, exploration, foraging, bonding, playing, retreating and others.

5. Mental State – by presenting positive situations in the previous four functional domains, the mental state of the animal should benefit from predominantly positive states, such as pleasure, comfort or vitality, while reducing negative states such as fear, frustration, hunger, pain or boredom.

I also recognise that the needs of wild animals in particular can never be fully met in captivity. Where wild animals are kept in captivity the facility must not only provide them with best possible welfare conditions, it must also contribute towards a shift away from exploitative practices and be supportive of phasing out keeping wild animals for commercial purposes.

Animal Welfare Guidelines

We do not sell or promote venues and/or activities that offer tourists any of the following experiences:

• Close interaction with wild animals, such as, touching or riding, including but not limited to elephant riding and bathing, swimming with dolphins or walking with lions;

• Watching wild animal performances, including but not limited to dolphin shows, circuses, orangutan boxing;

• Photo opportunities with wild animals, including, but not limited to big cats, sloths, or primates, tiger selfies, dolphin kissing, or selfies with orangutans;

• Watching animals fight or race, or being used in other sport or cultural events that cause animals to suffer or die, including but not limited to bullfighting and running, crocodile wrestling, dog fighting, rodeo, elephant polo and horse racing;

• Visiting facilities where captive wild animals are bred and kept for commercial products, including but not limited to crocodile farms, civet coffee farms, bear bile farms, turtle farms;

• Engaging in trophy, canned hunting or sport fishing. When not in conflict with any of the above guidelines [Company name] does offer and/or promotes the following venues and activities were tourist can experience animals:

• Genuine animal sanctuaries, rehabilitation facilities and rescue centres that have the highest possible standards of animal care. E.g. sanctuaries certified by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS) or elephant venues following World Animal Protection’s Elephant-Friendly venue guidelines. For further guidance on how to recognise a genuine wildlife sanctuary, see World Animal Protection’s checklist.

• Responsible, wildlife watching where a visitor can observe animals in their natural environment from a suitable distance without interrupting their natural behaviours or disturbing their routines. E.g. whale watching experiences certified by the Whale Cetacean Alliance (WCA).

• Zoos and aquariums that are accredited by members of World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) and national zoo and aquarium accrediting bodies which do not hold cetaceans in captivity and do not use wild animals for direct contact activities with visitors or have them perform in shows. (Keep in mind that these accreditation/affiliations alone can’t be relied on as a measure of good welfare.

My goal is to help you choose a holiday which supports this statement, using my knowledge and experience to help you make positive choices in terms of wildlife and animal attractions across the world.

If you would like help to plan your dream wildlife holiday with expert guidance please get in touch!