Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Animals in the News

In today's blog post, we bring you two contrasting news stories relating to animal tourism.

Tourist guard shoots a polar bear in Norway

Whilst leading a group of tourists from the MS Bremen cruise ship on the northernmost island of Norway's Svalbard archipelago, a polar bear attacked and injured a ship guard. A second guard shot the bear "in self-defence," and unfortunately, the polar bear died. 

The action has caused outrage, with many blaming the attack on human intrusion of the polar bear's natural habitat. The Svalbard Islands are known for their rugged landscape of glaciers and ice caps, and are home to around 3000 polar bears – greatly outnumbering the human population in this part of the world. 

Comedian Ricky Gervais was one of the many who spoke out against the bear's killing.

Bears behaviour has changed in recent years, as they react to a shrinking mass of Arctic ice by spending more time on land and travelling further distances to hunt. This, combined with the sharp rise in Arctic tourism over the last few years, has meant that there are now very strict rules, with one guide posting on the Haag-Lloyd website that "we all need to be vigilant when we are ashore."

Although it shouldn't have come to this, we hope this incident was a one-off, and that those visiting the islands can be safe, whilst respectful of remaining local wildlife.

Thomas Cook has stopped selling tickets to visit SeaWorld, Florida

Florida might well be the place where many Britons flock to see all the incredible theme parks, but if you are booking with Thomas Cook, you'll no longer be able to get tickets for SeaWorld. The tour operator said the decision was made because of customer feedback and evidence from animal welfare specialists. 

Thomas Cook's chief executive, Peter Fankhauser, said:

"This was not a decision we took lightly. We have actively engaged with a range of animal welfare specialists in the last 18 months, and taken account of the scientific evidence that have provided."

The ban on the sale of tickets to attractions that hold captive orcas, which also includes tickets to Tenerife's Loro Parque, will start from next summer. This also covers 29 other attractions that have been removed from sales as a result of the new animal welfare policy.

It's a step in the right direction for animals in captivity, and we hope that many other travel providers can follow Thomas Cook's lead!

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