You know how when you are travelling and your mind is automatically set on holiday mode? This could mean a wide range of different things for different people. For some, it may mean changing the bedsheets and towels everyday at the hotel while others (like me) take holidays as cheat days, away from mundane routine.
Regardless on how we spend our holidays and travels, it should not be an excuse for us not to be conscious of our surroundings while travelling. Ethical travelling should be emphasised for every Muslim traveller upholding the Islamic principles as mentioned in the Qur’an ayah 30 of surah Al-Ankabut (20):
“Say, [O Muhammad], "Travel through the land and observe how He began creation. Then Allah will produce the final creation. Indeed Allah, over all things, is competent."
To celebrate this particular ayah, we have decided to put together a list of animal attractions you should avoid when travelling due to the animal cruelty practices that happen as a result of these attractions.
1. Elephant Rides
Elephant Rides have been famous for quite a bit, and it may be pretty common to see travel photos being shared on social media. Cute and exciting? Maybe.
Unfortunately, not many know about what really goes on behind the scenes, to get these elephants tamed and ready to give you that ride.
At face value, these elephants may appear adorable and cute when dressed in fancy outfits to please tourists. In reality however, baby elephants are typically taken away from their mothers to undergo a severe training called ‘the crush’. To make things worse, these elephants are either caged or horrifically chained on all four legs - contradicting to their free-spirited nature ?
These elephant rides are prevalent in Asian countries and it’s shameful that it has to go down that route. We firmly believe that these elephants deserve to be treated respectfully and celebrated within its natural environment.
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Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary, Thailand[/caption]
Alternatively, we suggest visiting sanctuaries that celebrate wildlife animals by allowing tourists and travellers to live the actual experience without exploiting or torturing these gorgeous beings. Instead of riding on these elephants, why not have a fun time bathing and feeding them?
Check out the Boon Lott’s Elephant sanctuary here
and the Elephant Nature Park here
2. Performing DolphinsCredit: flaglerlive
Can you imagine being confined within a limited space but in your heart, you know you are born to roam freely and to discover? Or have you ever experienced days when you need to repeat the same line or story all over again? That’s exactly what tourist attractions do to dolphins trained to perform and swim just for the pleasure of tourists. These dolphins are conditioned to perform tricks for some rewards, and are also vigorously trained to repeat the same signals day in day out. These acts clearly are against their nature.
More importantly, what becomes of us to acknowledge this cruelty and support it when we clearly know they are born free?
3. CircusesCredit: Giphy
Animals that are trained to perform in circuses receive similar vigorous treatment as they are exploited against their wild nature. Elephants, monkeys, tigers, bears and others are often chained, beaten and tortured in animal training facilities just so these production houses could make profit from people who are willing to pay to see these animals perform. But what we are unaware of, is how badly these animals are exploited. You can see how badly animals are being treated through this video
4. Tiger AttractionsCredit: Giphy
It really is quite the irony to see predators such as these pantheras
captivated for profit-making purposes. Attractions like these often allow tourists to hug and take photos with the tiger, which is stressful for the tigers. Like most abused animals, these tigers have to be taken away from their mothers at an early age to be trained. Not only are they captivated in confined environment on concrete slab, but it is also rumoured that the tigers are drugged and sedated to appear sleepy and contented.
Tiger attractions are famous in Asia, Africa, Mexico and Argentina. If ever you are given a chance to visit these attractions, we strongly urge you to reconsider. Think about how these tigers are put under constant pressure and denied their natural rights. They are also subjected to a lifetime in captivity, as they can never be released back in the wild.
5. Monkey see, monkey doCredit: Creative Commons / Tyson Marsden on Flickr
Monkeys have also been used as street performers for quite some time now. Perhaps it is because these furry animals seem to strongly resemble humans. These monkeys are trained (you bet, intensely) and chained to ensure they are able to mimic humans closely. They are often kept under harsh conditions – e.g. in a barren cage, or chained up with a short leash.
Imagine being forced to work while being chained?
Instead, consider volunteering at the gibbon rehabilitation project in Thailand
- where they rescue gibbons and work towards rehabilitating them into their natural habitats!
Being a Muslim traveler not only means you get to live up to the Quranic ayah quoted above (30:20), but this also gives you an opportunity to spread the Islamic character wherever you are.
This includes upholding the dignity and the rights of our environment, animals included.
In Surah An’Anam (The Cattle), Allah compared the animals similar to humans as we all live in our own communities:
And there is no creature on [or within] the earth or bird that flies with its wings except [that they are] communities like you. We have not neglected in the Register a thing. Then unto their Lord they will be gathered. (6:38)
Always do your research before deciding to visit any sort of animal attraction to ensure that you’re not unknowingly supporting an organization that exploits these animals for profit. We believe that with the alternatives provided in this article, you can still get a chance to witness these wild animals without causing them any harm!
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