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10 Ethical Animal Attractions Around the World

10 November 2016 | Mri Grout | Collaboration Post

To some, any type of animal enclosure is immoral. To others, any for-profits are unethical. But the single-most condition that we all loathe is when places choose profit over animal welfare. Those that trap these beautiful creatures into cages that are way too small to save on paying for more land. Those that rip animals away from their much needed social groups to the point where they suffer severe depression just so they can save on animal costs. Those horrible zoos and falsely claimed sanctuaries that force their captives to perform day after day for disgusting human entertainment.

Personally, I think it's horrible that this list of the most ethical animal attractions around the world even needs to exist; the standards that are seen in the places below should simply be the base line.

And that is what I'm hoping to help accomplish with this post. If we can all just choose to visit an ethical zoo or sanctuary instead of turning a blind eye for entertainment, then maybe, just maybe we can end the suffering no creature should ever be forced to endure.

*All below entries are non-for-profit organizations with the exception of Kings Ningaloo Reef Tours and are all paid attractions unless stated otherwise.

Australia, Eastern - Koala Hospital [Free]

Australia, Western - Whale Sharks at Kings Ningaloo Reef Tours

Wild whale shark seen when swimming with Kings Ningaloo Reef Tours | Photo by Drink Tea and Travel

Oksana | Drink Tea & Travel
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At Kings Ningaloo Reef Tours, the opportunity to swim with whale sharks in the wild isn’t taken lightly. Every year, between April and July, up to 1,000 whale sharks migrate to feed in the Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia, making it one of the best spots in the world to spot these gentle giants in the wild.

Ecological tourism is what Kings Ningaloo Reef Tours is all about and it’s exactly for this reason that we felt comfortable in joining this tour for our first encounter with whale sharks. The company is proudly ECO Certified ensuring that their tours adhere to the best practices and standards for environmentally responsible ways to encounter whale sharks in the wild. We weren’t allowed to touch the whale sharks or interfere with their course; in fact, we had to maintain a strict 3 metres radius around the whale sharks at all times. The group size was limited to just 10 people, which meant that everyone had lots of space to be able to swim along with the whale sharks and admire their beauty. It was an unforgettable experience and one we would definitely recommend to others!

Contributed by Oksana & Max from Drink Tea & Travel, a website created by a tea loving couple on a mission to build a sustainable travel lifestyle. To discover a fantastic story about their personal experience diving with Kings Ningaloo Reef Tours, check out their Swimming With Whale Sharks in Ningaloo Reef.

*Though Kings Ningaloo Reef Tours is NOT a non-for-profit, they are the most environmentally friendly option for those wishing to swim with whale sharks in the wild and they do not try to push any interactions if the animals are uncomfortable. You can read all about their eleogical tourism practices and a bit about their conservation efforts at Eco Tourism with Kings Ningaloo Reef Tours on their official website.

Borneo - Orangutans at Camp Leaky

Orangutan at Camp Leaky taken by Midnight Blue Elephant

Annika | The Midnight Blue Elephant
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Seeing orangutans in the wild is high on any wildlife lover's bucket list. Luckily, I have not only made this dream come true once, but twice in Borneo.

Camp Leakey, located in the Indonesian part of Borneo in Tanjung Puting National Park Park, is one of those places where you can still see them in the wild. And believe me - they will still your heart!

Camp Leakey is first and foremost a research center for scientists from all around the world who want to study the 'man of the forest'. The camp was established in 1971 and named after Louis Leakey, a mentor to both Dr. Jane Goodall and Dr. Dian Fossey. The deforestation of the rain forest, mainly to make space for palm oil plantations and illegal animal trade, has almost depleted orangutan population completely.

At Camp Leakey, orangutans are studied as well as reintroduced into the wild. Visitors can come and observe them on one of the feeding platforms and let me tell you, that is an event you don't want to miss! Mothers and their babies, huge alpha males and every age in between can be seen here and part of the excitement is that Camp Leakey is anything but a zoo. A thin rope keeps the visitors away from the orangutans (not the other way around) but other than that - it is a jungle out there and chances that one will get quite close especially if you are standing in the way of him and a banana are big!

Annika is a girl with with messy hair & a thirsty heart who likes to be anywhere but home. She travels between dashing and daring always looking for Nemo & Co! But let's see if she found some orangutans during her stay at Camp Leakey by reading her dream-inspiring post: Me & my Monkey. Finding Orangutans in Borneo and eagerly staying up to date with The Midnight Blue Elephant.

*For more information about Camp Leaky's conservation efforts and their financials breakdown (including tax returns!), please check out Our Work: Working to Save Orangutans Since 1971 on their official website.

Canada - Arctic Foxes & More at Salmonier Nature Park [Free]

Arctic Fox at Salmonier Nature Park | myVideoMedia's photo

Ursula Streit | myVideoMedia
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The Salmonier Nature Park in Newfoundland is a perfect example of a rehabilitation and education centre.

Many of the animals are here for rehabilitation purposes. Those animals that can survive on their own are released back to the wild. The others are kept in sensitively designed enclosures which represent their natural habitat.

Besides rehabilitation, the Salmonier Nature Park wants to familiarize the visitors with the indigenous wildlife of Newfoundland and Labrador and to create a better understanding for the needs of the animals and their natural environment. It is a wonderful experience to walk through the 1,400-hectares park with a mixture of woods, marshes, and ponds and see animals like snow owls, peregrine falcons, moose, bald eagles, Canadian geese, and arctic foxes along the 3km boardwalk trail. We were impressed by the arctic foxes as these shy animals have the densest fur of all mammals.

The Salmonier Nature Park is located on the Avalon Peninsula on the Salmonier Line (Route 90), 7 miles south of the Trans Canada Highway (Route1). Admission is free.

Travel is my passion and after nearly 30 years with international experience in the IT-industry, I quit my job to follow my passion. Together with my husband, a videographer, we share our travel experiences in the myVideoMedia Travel Video Blog. To share in their passion about Salmonier Nature Park, make sure to check out their beautiful video on YouTube.

*For more information about the conservation efforts of Salmonier Nature Park, please check out their Educational & Rehabilitatoin Programs on their official website.

China - Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding

Giant panda at the Chengu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding by myVideoMedia

Ursula Streit | myVideoMedia
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The Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in Chengdu, China is a non-profit organization, engaged in wildlife research, captive breeding, conservation education, and educational tourism.

Since female pandas are able to conceive only one day per year and pandas would rather eat than think of procreation, it is extremely difficult to maintain a steady number of pandas or to increase the number of pandas that exist. Knowing that the Giant Panda is still a "very endangered" animal on the Red List of the World Nature Conservation Union (IUCN) and needs the highest levels of protection to survive in the future, we were happy to see that Chengdu is able to show some very promising results in this field. Besides this, it is always a pleasure to closely observe the giant pandas of different ages when they're resting. Pandas sleep a lot so to get the most out of your visit, you should come during the food and activity time in the morning; 9-10 is a good time. Admission fee: RMB 58 or about $8.50 USD.

myVideoMedia's goal is to spread the word about destinations, hotels, culture, traditions and lifestyles to inspire people to travel. To hear what they have to say about the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, check out their three part series on YouTube starting with Part 1: Panda Mother With Cubs.

*For more information about the Chengdu Research Base's conservation efforts, please check out their Conservation Overview page on their official website.

England - Monkey World

Orangutan at Monkey World by Kids and Compass

Emily Cole | Kids and Compass
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Monkey World, one of earth’s leading primate rescue centres, is situated in Dorset, England. It has been rescuing animals from all over the world for almost 30 years and the centre is now home to over 250 apes, monkeys, and prosimians.  Working with governments around the world, staff conduct undercover research and save animals from the illegal pet trade, laboratories, and zoos where the animals are mistreated.  Animals that are not suitable to be released into the wild are rehabilitated and cared for at Monkey World.

The primates are kept in enclosures mimicking their natural habitats as closely as possible.  They’re also given food in differing ways to provide mental stimulation and have a variety of toys and objects to play with, as well as nesting materials.  Keepers know the primates individually and keep an eye on group dynamics as well as their physical health.

Monkey World is a great day out for visitors of all ages. There is a lemur enclosure that you can walk through; however, no contact with the animals is allowed.  The chimps and orangutans are the stars of the show and both have large enclosures with outdoor and indoor areas.  You can even peek into the indoor nests to see how they build them.

Monkey World relies on income from visits, public donations and “adoption” sponsorship of the animals.  By visiting you are helping not only the animals you see at the centre but also saving others around the world.

Travel doesn't have to stop when you've got kids - even two determined toddlers. Follow our family adventures in the UK and beyond over at Kids and Compass.

*For more information about the conservation efforts of Monkey World, please check out the Rescue & Rehabilitation page on their official website.

Nambia - Cheetah Conservation Fund

Cheetah at the Cheetah Conservation Fund | The Biveros Effect

Jesper Biveros | The Biveros Effect
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The Cheetah Conservation Fund is a non-profit organization in Namibia that is dedicated to saving the cheetahs in the wild. At their center outside of Otjiwarongo they do both research and sheltering of the animal. The center is also used to educate the public about the cheetah. We visited the center in October 2016 and had the opportunity to both see the feeding of the cheetahs as well as enjoy a cheetah drive in one of the enclosures. The animals we were shown were mostly the animals that had been rescued as cubs when their mother had either been shot or was missing.

My name is Jesper Biveros. My wife and I write a blog called The Biveros Effect. The aim of our blog is to inspire others by writing about our favorite destinations and telling our story. In doing so we hope to widen our own views, as well as motivate others to discover the world and challenge their views. To see if the Cheetah Conservation Fund helped them to accomplish these goals, check out their amazing photos and fantastic post at Southern Africa, Part V – Cheetah Conservation Fund, Namibia.

*For more information about the conservation efforts of the Cheetah Conservation Fund in Otjiwarongo, Namibia, please check out What We Do on their official website.

South Africa - the Big Five at Phinda Private Game Reserve

Leopard in a tree at Phinda Private Game Reserve | A World to Travel's photo

Inma Gregorio | A World to Travel
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Want to spot the Big 5 and all the other animals that populate the vast savannas of the South African reserves in an ethical fashion? Whether you choose a public reserve or a private one, you cannot leave the country without jumping on a safari and the one I am most fond of, after visiting it in 2015, is Phinda Private Game Reserve.

It’s one of the most luxurious in the country and in addition to getting the royal treatment at one of their eco-luxury lodges and when out on a safari, you will also be contributing to the preservation of the species that live there. South Africa faces a one-horned rhinoceros situation where poachers have decimated the population of this species during the last few years. Phinda Private Game Reserve, however, has a conservation centre where they track animals and research them; they also employ rangers to try to combat the poaching situation to save the rhinos and other hunted game.

Inma and Jose run A World to Travel, a very visual site that features unique experiences around the globe. Follow their South African adventures and misadventures at My Luxury And Sustainability Adventures in South Africa.

*For more information about Phinda's conservation efforts, please check out Care of the Land, Wildlife and People on their official website.

Sri Lanka - Elephants at Kaudulla National Park

wild elephants at Kaudulla National Park | Soul Travel Blogs photo

Ellie Cleary | Soul Travel Blog
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As a lifelong elephant lover, seeing elephants in Asia has been something of a dilemma for me. I learnt the hard way that riding elephants is inhumane, and I now travel with the principle “if you can ride, hug, or have a selfie with it, the animal is likely to be suffering”.

In Sri Lanka, a quick Google search for seeing elephants returns scores of results. Some are even for elephant “orphanages;" however, they definitely do not fit with the above guidance. So for me, it was a simple choice between two national parks - Kaudulla and Minneriya, where you see the elephants from a distance. Due to traveling to Sri Lanka in November, we chose Kaudulla and enjoyed a wonderful couple of hours on a jeep safari of the national park. Although the park was relatively busy, all vehicles kept a respectful distance from the elephants. Just before sunset the magic occurred and we arrived on the shores of a large watering hole to scores of elephants enjoying the water in the waning sun.

Soul Travel Blog is a blog which believes in positive-impact travel and provides discussion and advice for how to make our travel a win-win equation: environmentally, socially and economically.

*For more information about the conservation efforts of Kaudulla National Park, which is run by Sri Lanka's Department of Wildlife Conservation, please check out Care of the Land, Wildlife and People on their official website.

USA - Turtle Hospital in Florida Keys

Injured turtle at the Turtle Hospital in Florida Keys by The World is a Book

Mary Solio | The World is a Book
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The Turtle Hospital in the Florida Keys goes by the motto of "Rescue, Rehab, Release". This fully operational veterinary hospital has cared for and released over 1,500 sea turtles since it opened in 1986. Visitors can go on a guided 90-minute educational tour of its facilities and rehabilitation area. The tour started with a slideshow showing how many of the turtles ended up at the hospital. It was heartbreaking to see that many sea turtles were injured due to human actions. The tour ended with feeding the turtles which my kids absolutely loved. We loved meeting over 50 sea turtles plus some hatchlings during our visit.

Some of the turtles were permanent residents since they have issues and injuries that will make it difficult for them to survive in the wild. We loved interacting with the turtles and many of them swam pretty close to us.

We highly recommend visiting the turtle hospital if you're in the area. It was an educational, inspiring and enlightening experience. It gave visitors the opportunity to be close to the sea turtles in a responsible and ethical way. In addition, visitors can learn how human actions have affected them and the many ways we can help them.

Mary Solio is an island girl at heart who now calls San Diego, California home. She works full-time, runs an awesome blog called The World is a Book, juggles parenting a teen and a tween, and takes every opportunity to explore the world with her kids. To read all about their exploration of rescued and rehabilitated turtles, check out her post: Visiting the Turtle Hospital in the Florida Keys

*To see every turtle that's been rescued, rehabilitated, and released by the Turtle Hospital in Florida Keys, please check out the Meet Our Turtles page on their official website.

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