New report finds wildlife attractions in Bali are a living hell for animals

New report finds wildlife attractions in Bali are a living hell for animals
Bali Zoo, Singapadu Village, Sukawati, Gianyar Regency, Bali, Indonesia.

A shocking new report from World Animal Protection has revealed that all wildlife tourism entertainment venues in Bali with captive elephants, tigers, dolphins or civet cats fail to meet even the basic needs of wild animals in captivity.

The Wildlife Abusement Parks report details the results of an investigation into 26 wildlife tourism venues in Bali, Lombok and Gili Trawangan that house 1,500 wild animals, including elephants, dolphins and orangutans.

Bali is an increasingly popular holiday destination for tourists from the UK, with a 14% increase in 2017. UK citizens are the fifth most prolific tourists in the country, with more than 243,000 UK tourists visiting the island last year.

But far from being an island paradise, the report paints a bleak picture of the conditions the wild animals are forced to endure day-in, day-out. Almost all of them will spend the rest of their lives suffering in Bali.

Elephant rides, swimming with dolphins, orangutan selfies and circus-style shows, are increasingly popular tourist activities for many travellers to the island. But some of the most disturbing findings reveal that:

  • All dolphins were kept in severely inadequate conditions – one pool estimated to be 10X20 metres and three metres deep housed four bottlenose dolphins
    Dolphins at one venue have had their teeth filed down or removed entirely to ensure they are unable to injure swimmers
  • All of the elephant venues offered elephant rides – elephants used for this activity often suffer a cruel and intensive training process that involves severe restraint. Severe pain is also often inflicted to speed up the process and quickly establish dominance. This highly traumatic experience will stay with the elephant forever
  • Nearly 15% of elephants displayed stereotypies – abnormal repetitive behaviours – including swaying and foot shuffling – which indicate distress and suffering
  • All venues with orangutans offered selfie experiences. Forced to entertain queues of tourists, many of these animals lacked freedom of movement, opportunities for social interaction and any stimulating activities.

Steve McIvor, CEO at World Animal Protection, said:

“It’s a tragedy that Bali, such a beautiful destination for tourists, forces its captive wild animals to endure such grotesque and horrific conditions.

“Behind the scenes, wild animals are being taken from their mothers as babies or bred in captivity to be kept in filthy, cramped conditions, or repeatedly forced to interact with tourist for hours on end.

“Bali is an idyllic paradise and its economy relies on the millions of tourists who travel there each year. Sadly, until Bali improves animal welfare at these dreadful venues, World Animal Protection is urging (insert country) tourists to avoid them. If you can ride, hug or have a selfie with wild animal, then it’s cruel – don’t do it, no matter how many ‘likes’ it will get on social media.

“We’d also encourage holidaymakers to boycott the travel companies that promote and support these venues. (Insert country) travel companies have a responsibility to urgently review their Bali offerings to ensure they are not supporting these appalling establishments.

“In the past, when our teams have investigated animal welfare conditions at other leading holiday destinations, I’ve always been able to recommend venues with good welfare standards. It’s horrendous that there isn’t one venue I can recommend on Bali, Lombok and Gili Trawangan.”

To protect wild animals, World Animal Protection has convinced nearly 200 travel companies to stop offering elephant rides and shows in travel packages. Among these are popular UK brands such as Thomas Cook, Exodus Travel and Explore Worldwide.

Travindy is an independent website featuring news and opinion on all issues to do with tourism and sustainability. Written primarily for an industry audience, our aim is to support the transformation of the sector into one that is regenerative, restorative and fully inclusive.

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