Luang Prabang elephant sanctuary

Become a Responsible Travel Company for Wildlife

Tourists are increasingly demanding sustainable and ethical travel opportunities that don’t cause harm to wildlife. Here’s how we can help you develop or improve your animal welfare policy.

Travellers of today are seeking sustainable and responsible travel opportunities that respect wildlife and local communities. With 75 years of experience in protecting animals, let our team of experts help you in ensuring that your offerings are responsible and respectful to animals and the people whose livelihoods may depend on them, while still providing memorable wildlife experiences.

We've helped some of the world’s biggest travel companies develop their animal welfare policies to protect wildlife from being ripped from their natural habitat or bred into a life of captivity in the name of entertainment.

Are you ready to take a step towards becoming a wildlife-friendly travel organisation?

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Dolphin watching in Algoa Bay, South Africa

Why become wildlife friendly?

Image credit: Raggy Charters

Around the world, hundreds of thousands of wild animals are suffering for tourist entertainment in distressing activities such as elephant rides, sloth selfies, walks with lions, monkey shows, and swimming with dolphins.

These ‘once-in-a-lifetime' opportunities for a tourist means a lifetime of suffering for animals.

As a member of the travel industry, you have the power and responsibility to help protect these animals by developing a robust animal welfare policy. By becoming a responsible travel company for wildlife, you can help travellers make responsible holiday decisions and help drive down the demand for activities involving animal cruelty.


Your customers want ethical tourism opportunities

Today's travellers are choosing holidays based on how ethical and animal-friendly they are. Our polling has time and again revealed the dramatic shift in travellers’ attitudes. They are becoming more aware of the cruelty involved in captive wildlife tourism.

Our 2022 global consumer survey with 23,726 participants across 15 countries found that:

  • 79% would rather see a dolphin in the wild than in a captive environment
  • 82% believe that tour operators should not sell activities that cause suffering to wild animals.
  • 38% would avoid travel companies who were profiting from selling venues associated with animal cruelty.

Travel companies and tour operators of all sizes can meet their customers’ expectations while helping to put an end to cruel wildlife entertainment. If you’re unsure about what exactly is ‘wildlife-friendly tourism’ or are not sure where to start, don’t worry because we’re here to help.

Orangutan boxing in Thailand
Elephant rider with bullhook, Bali Zoo

Our Research into Wildlife Tourism

We are here to share our expertise with travel companies like yours and help you ensure that your offerings don't perpetuate animal cruelty, while still ensuring unique wildlife experiences.

Take a look at some of our investigations into wildlife tourism across the world.

Taiji dolphin hunt

Waves of Profit

An investigation into the travel industry’s role as the main economic driver of the annual six-month dolphin hunt in Taiji, Japan.

Monkey in a cage, Bali. Credit: Andito Wasi / World Animal Protection

Holidays that Harm

A reinvestigation into 34 popular wildlife tourism venues across Bali and Lombok that exposes the inadequate captive conditions that wild animals are kept in on these islands.

Koala cuddles at Lone Pine, Australia

Too Close for Comfort

An investigation into iconic Australian wildlife venues Australia Zoo, Dream World and Sea World exploiting wild animals for profit through forced visitor interactions.

Stay informed by signing up for the latest updates on our investigation and reports into the travel and tourism industry.

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Libearty sanctuary Romania

Six steps to become wildlife friendly

You can help build a responsible, sustainable future for the tourism industry while meeting customer needs and helping end captive wildlife entertainment for good.

1. Develop an animal welfare policy

Create a policy with guidance from us and ask suppliers to plan a phase out of any activities and attractions that are no longer acceptable as part of your product offers. A good policy will help ensure you are assessing animal-based tourism consistently with the latest scientific information and mitigate the risk of being criticised for not doing enough.

2. Review your animal-related product offerings

Activities that negatively impact animal welfare and the conservation of species in the wild, and that can be of high risk to the health and safety of your travellers include direct interaction with wild animals and wild animals performing.

Dolphin entertainment venue

3. Replace these offerings with ethical tourism opportunities

Assess the value of these activities and start to look for non-animal and ethical animal alternatives, such as watching animals from a safe and respectful distance in their natural habitats, Wildlife Heritage Areas or at a genuine sanctuary where the animals are not bred in captivity or traded.

4. Talk to your suppliers

Start conversations with your suppliers to help them understand that change is needed and that you are looking for responsible alternatives to replace wildlife entertainment activities. Remember that while ethical experiences exist, a company like yours can help phase out wildlife entertainment by asking ground suppliers to stop commercial breeding and trade while improving the conditions of those animals already in captivity.

5. Train your staff on animal welfare

We are happy to offer you training modules, checklists and research that will allow your staff to identify cruel attractions and activities, understand truly ethical wildlife experiences, and own your company’s animal welfare policy.

Elephant sanctuary

6. Educate your customers

Speak out about your company’s commitment to animal welfare and educate your customers on how to be animal-friendly travellers. Education is vital to shift demand towards responsible tourism.

We're here to guide and support you along the way, drop us an email today. Together, we can end the suffering of captive wild animals in tourism.

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Dolphin watching in the wild

Responsible wildlife tourism initiatives

Wildlife Heritage Areas

The best place to see a wild animal is in their natural habitat. Wildlife Heritage Areas is a global programme that we developed with the World Cetacean Alliance that recognises global destinations that offer responsible wildlife-watching tourism. These destinations incorporate high standards of animal welfare, sustainability, and nature conservation to help ensure wildlife, ecosystems, and communities can survive and thrive together.

Each area goes through an application process developed by the Wildlife Heritage Network of specialist NGOs, wildlife experts, responsible tourism companies, and local communities. The ultimate goal of this initiative is to provide travel companies like yours and tourists with examples of identifying and supporting responsible wildlife tourism destinations with high standards of animal welfare, biodiversity conservation, and community well-being. Hervey Bay in Australia is one such area.

Wild whale at Algoa Bay, South Africa

Wildlife Heritage Areas


Whale Heritage Sites are an ethical tourist option to have meaningful experiences with whales and dolphins.

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Staff with elephants in Thailand

Elephant transition venues


The best place to catch a glimpse of elephants in all their glory is, without a doubt, the wild. But this is not always possible.

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Elephant transition venues

To cater to the demand for elephant attractions, thousands of elephants are being taken from the wild or bred in captivity, beaten into submission, and forced to suffer in the name of wildlife tourism. However, there is a way for tourist venues to be commercially viable while being elephant friendly.

Over the past few years, many such venues are increasingly shifting away from cruelty and are transitioning to elephant-friendly venues that provide responsible elephant experiences to tourists. The transition allows elephants to be free to behave as they would in the wild; free to roam the valley, graze, and bathe in mud, dust, and water.

With help from us and some leading travel companies, two elephant venues ChangChill and Following Giants in Thailand have transitioned into elephant-friendly and stopped direct visitor interactions with their resident animals. They offer a better life for the elephants and a unique experience for travellers without the inherent cruelty of direct interactions.

Wildlife sanctuaries

We support genuine sanctuaries around the world to help care for previously exploited animals such bears that can't be returned to the wild.

We partnered with Asociatia Milioane de Prieteni, an animal association in Romania, to create and manage Europe’s largest bear sanctuary. The sanctuary was created to facilitate the legal confiscation of captive bears from poor welfare conditions and ensure the lifetime care of those bears. As part of their fundraising programme, the sanctuary is open to paying visitors since mid-2013 in a way that does not adversely affect the welfare of the bears.

The travel industry can play a key role in a responsible future for bears and other wild animals by only promoting and selling such responsible wildlife experiences.

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Two bears at Romania bear sanctuary - Animals in the wild - World Animal Protection

Wildlife sanctuaries


Since 2005, World Animal Protection supported Asociatia Milioane de Prieteni (AMP) in creating the world’s largest bear sanctuary.

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About us

At World Animal Protection we move the world to protect animals because we know that the life of every animal counts.

What we do

Working around the world to end the needless suffering of animals by inspiring people to change animals’ lives for the better.

Animals, not entertainers.

Together, we can stop the demand for cruel wildlife tourism activities and put an end to the needless suffering of wild animals.