In a major victory for animal advocates around the world, TripAdvisor announced in a press release today that they will no longer book tourist attractions that put humans in direct contact with wild or endangered animals. This includes many attractions that are notoriously cruel to animals, such as tiger petting zoos, swim-with-the-dolphin programs and elephant rides.

Animal rights organization World Animal Protection calls this announcement a “breakthrough” for their long-running Wildlife – Not Entertainers campaign, and will join a team of animal advocacy groups working with TripAdvisor to develop an “education portal” that informs site visitors about the inherent cruelty of wild animal attractions.

“This is a significant step towards ending the sale of hundreds of cruel wildlife activities and protecting animals,” WAP International Media Manager Kai Akram told Lady Freethinker. “It sends a message to the travel industry and millions of users that wildlife entertainment such as taking tiger selfies or riding elephants is not something you should do.”

WAP estimates that 110 million people visit inhumane tourists attractions every year; and according to research from the University of Oxford’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU), 80% of people left positive reviews on TripAdvisor for attractions that demonstrate poor treatment of animals.

Sadly, most tourists never see the shocking cruelty that happens behind the scenes.

“The animals at these venues are often taken from their mothers when young, beaten, and endure ongoing physical and psychological abuse during training to make them submissive enough to give rides, perform tricks or pose for holiday ‘selfies’ with tourists,” said Akram, “They are then chained or kept in barren cages for the rest of their lives, a far cry from the freedom of their natural habitats.”

How can tourists spot a cruel attraction?

“If you can ride it, hug it or have a selfie with a wild animal, then the chances are it is cruel and the animal is suffering,” said Akram. “Vote with your feet and don’t go.”

The UN issues the World Wildlife Crime Report