Lonely Planet Writer

A UK travel firm drops visits to zoos but keeps trips to animal sanctuaries and rescue centres

A British travel company has announced that it will no longer offer trips that include visits to zoos, but will continue to work with sanctuaries and rescue centres. Responsible Travel has removed six trips from its site so far, and says that is is also conducting an in-depth audit of all captive animal facilities visited on the trips it sells to be certain they comply with its new guidelines.

Responsible Travel has pledged to withdraw holidays that include trips to zoos. Image: Anup Shah
Responsible Travel has pledged to withdraw holidays that include trips to zoos. Image: Anup Shah

Its decision has been supported by the Born Free Foundation and actor and animal welfare campaigner, Joanna Lumley. “It only takes one to create a movement for change and it is fabulous to see a travel company being brave, sticking their heads above the parapet and saying that in 2017 keeping animals in captivity purely for our entertainment is just not acceptable,” she said. “There are so many superb ways to learn about and appreciate animals in the wild; we should be encouraging people to get out into nature, not watching wildlife behind bars.”

Responsible Travel has pledged to withdraw holidays that include trips to zoos. Image: Daniel Seiler / EyeEm
Responsible Travel has pledged to withdraw holidays that include trips to zoos. Image: Daniel Seiler / EyeEm

In its statement, Responsible Travel said that it had concluded that zoos are not appropriate in 2017. “They are relics of the past, and the arguments to justify keeping animals in captivity no longer stand up,” it said. The company has pledged to promote legitimate animal sanctuaries and rescue centres for animals that cannot be returned to the wild, as well as rehabilitation centres for animals that will be returned to the wild, as long as no captive breeding takes place in these facilities. It will also support “genuine endangered species conservation centres.”

Responsible Travel has pledged to withdraw holidays that include trips to zoos: Image: James Forsyth
Responsible Travel has pledged to withdraw holidays that include trips to zoos: Image: James Forsyth

“In our view, rather than being self-proclaimed conservation organisations, zoos are in fact businesses that exploit animals for profit, Responsible Travel concluded. “We hope that other travel businesses and tour operators will join us in creating a movement for change that recognises that zoos are outdated, unethical and unnecessary.”

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