Hong Kong-based travel firm Klook has vowed to end ticketing for attractions which use wild animals for performances, or that force animals to interact with tourists, amid pressure from animal welfare NGO the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
Such tours still appeared to be on sale when HKFP checked on Wednesday, with the agency telling HKFP that its updated policy will be enacted on October 31.
In a Tuesday press release, PETA said that Klook had been promoting tours of the Egyptian pyramids that involved horses and camels that were subject to abuse. Footage shot by the US charity showed that “camels are routinely beaten with sticks and their legs are bound at Egypt’s notorious Birqash Camel Market, including one who was tied to the back of a truck and dragged through the street.” Other clips show horses with open wounds and untreated injuries.
However, following communication with PETA, Klook had agreed not to promote or sell tickets to such attractions, the NGO said.
PETA added that it was sending the company some vegan chocolates as a token of thanks.
“A major win for animals, Klook’s new policy encourages tourists to experience the splendour of the pyramids without climbing onto the backs of abused camels or relying on exhausted, injured horses for transportation,” said PETA Senior Vice President Jason Baker in the press statement. “PETA is applauding Klook for helping to save lives and inspire other tourism companies to abandon cruel practices.”
Animal experiences still available
Klook’s animal welfare policy, which is posted on its website, was first published in March and updated in June. It states that the company was committed to “helping to build a responsible tourism community and improve the lives of animals in the travel industry.”
The firm says it will not carry activities that involve trophy hunting and blood sports, or the consumption of wild animal products. Situations where wild animals are sedated or baited, as well as circuses, shows and performances where wild animals are forced to perform unnatural behaviour are also banned.
According to NGO World Animal Protection, the agency previously offered big cat and primate attractions across Asia.
When HKFP checked on Wednesday, camel tours in Giza appeared to be unavailable.
However, camel rides in Kobe, Japan, were still available for booking. Trips to monkey or elephant sanctuaries in Thailand were also remained on sale, as did experiences that involved swimming with wild or captive dolphins.
“Klook must go further,” Nicole Barrantes of World Animal Protection told travel news site Skift last Friday. “It must remove all wildlife attractions, including its elephant bathing and feeding offerings, which still involve significant cruelty behind the scenes.”
When asked by HKFP if the remaining listings were in compliance with Klook’s current policy on animal “circuses, shows and performances,” the agency said that updated guidelines “will officially come into effect on 31 October 2023.”
“Our approach is to continually work with operators to encourage long-term and sustainable change, with some necessary adjustments (which include the removal of non-compliant products) being made before end October 2023,” the spokesperson added.
“We are committed to helping to build a responsible tourism community and improve the lives of animals in the travel industry. We believe that the most joyful travel experiences are those where visitors can observe wildlife displaying their natural behaviours, in an environment that is safe for the animals and our customers.”
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