At The Grand Adventure Company, we have always been committed to cruelty-free adventure. Working with our local suppliers to ensure we are not knowingly or unknowingly supporting unethical practices involving animals.
We decided that we wanted to formalise this commitment and approached the World Animal Protection Organisation to ask for support.
We are pleased to have signed up to the World Animal Protection’s Elephant Friendly Tourism Pledge and their Protecting Wild Animals in Tourism statement of intent.
Elephant Friendly Tourism Pledge
Elephants, particularly in South East Asia, have long been used as tourist attractions. What many tourists don’t realise is the cruelty the elephants have gone through in order for their behaviour to be manipulated in these ways. For elephants to be ridden or perform tricks such as painting, balancing acts or other circus tricks they are taken from their natural habitats, held in captivity and put through an extremely cruel ‘breaking’ process. We do not want to support such activities. If there is no demand from tourists or tour operators for these activities then these cruel practices will die out.
Through signing this Pledge, The Grand Adventure Company:
- Acknowledges that tourists want to experience wild animals, but often don’t realise that wild animals suffer hidden cruelty in order to perform and interact with people.
- Recognises that elephants in tourist venues are often sourced from the wild, representing an animal welfare and conservation concern.
- Understands that elephants used for entertainment purposes have to undergo a cruel breaking-in process, harsh training, are forced to act unnaturally, and suffer throughout their lives in captivity.
- Commits not to sell, offer or promote venues or activities involving elephant rides and shows. Instead, if offering elephant experiences, commits to offer only those with a high standard of elephant welfare and conservation, with responsible viewing of elephants in wild or semi-wild habitats.
- Commits to proactively communicate this commitment to protect elephants to customers, to encourage elephant-friendly tourism.
Protecting Wild Animals in Tourism
As an international tour operator, we work with many suppliers and activity providers around the world. It is important we understand the impact these activities have and only support providers who are using safe and ethical practices.
Any activities that may involve interacting with animals are especially important to manage appropriately. Direct damage can easily be caused to habitats or natural behaviours if not careful or unsustainable or cruel practices can inadvertently or unknowingly be supported without a thorough understanding.
For example, seemingly innocuous photos with animals being offered on the street can seem harmless but often these animals have been illegally taken from the wild and stripped of teeth and claws to enable close interaction with tourists. By paying for these photos these unscrupulous activities are being supported.
At the Grand Adventure Company, we are committed to the protection of animals encountered on our adventures and have banned the World Animal Protections list of ‘unacceptable activities’, including elephant rides and other forced encounters. Any activity that involves possible interaction with animals must be carefully managed in line with best practice and expert advice. We have formalised this by signing the World Animal Protection “Statement of Intent”.
We have also published our animal protection policy which gives guidance on how we responsibly manage sustainable activities involving animals.
You can read more about our approach here.