Tag Archives: Thailand

What’s the real cost of taking a tiger selfie?

Behind a screen, a line of people stand—waiting to take a photo with one of the most feared and respected predators in the world; a tiger. The gentle beast appears docile and well looked after. What could possibly be wrong with taking a picture beside him?

“Tiger selfies” have become a popular practice of tourists to South East Asia, particularly in Thailand where there are many tiger entertainment venues, some masking as conservation centres. Earlier this year, we exposed the reasons why we don’t ride elephants, and today being International Tiger Day, we want to address the recent report by World Animal Protection, which exposes the real cost of taking a tiger selfie.

Many people are unaware of the suffering behind tiger selfies, and what they represent. Unfortunately, the appeal of having a close encounter with a tiger is amplified by these selfies, especially since they are being shared on social media. The issue of tiger selfies is part of a wider problem around the appalling treatment of tigers in countries like Thailand.

So what’s going on?

Wildlife tourism is big business, worth up to $250 billion (USD) annually. Around 550,000 wild animals are victims of irresponsible tourism. Captive tigers are especially sought after, with the increased demand for selfies and close encounters with tiger cubs. Tigers at these entertainment venues must endure:

A lifetime of suffering – cubs are taken from their mothers within two weeks of birth. There is no benefit for cubs to be taken so early. The research conducted by WAP confirms that the conditions of Thailand’s entertainment venues are severely inadequate; they did not even meet the tiger’s most basic needs. They’re also kept chained for great lengths of time and kept in unnatural environments.

Forced entertainment – Tigers are made to perform unnatural tasks; jumping through burning hoops, balancing on ropes and walking across raised steel platforms. The training involves inflicting pain and suffering upon the animals.

Unnecessary punishment – It goes without saying that the conditions faced by tigers are punishment enough, however it doesn’t quite end there. It’s not uncommon for staff at Sriracha Tiger Zoo to limit food as a form of punishment.

WAP - Tiger
Tiger in captivity

What we don’t know

According to the report, visitors to these venues are unaware that they are funding cruelty and ignorance. TripAdvisor reviews for Sriracha Tiger Zoo (a facility with a great many tigers in captivity) show that over 80% of visitors rated the attraction as “excellent”, while only 18% gave a negative review on concerns of animal welfare.

The purpose of the report and campaign against tiger selfies is to educate tourists and visitors about what they are really supporting if they choose to pay the entry fee.

What can you do?

At Inspired, we are committed to putting an end to the suffering of animals. We all have a role to play in protecting tigers from the cruelty that comes with being a source of entertainment for tourists. In order to phase out this industry, WAP calls for government intervention on tiger entertainment venues, support from travel companies to end the promotion of these venues and for travellers to avoid them altogether.

By choosing not to visit, or take part in human-animal interactions you will play a crucial part in closing down these entertainment venues for good. Understand that if you interact with a wild animal in venues like this, you are supporting a cruel and inhumane industry.

Today is International Tiger Day and World Animal Protection are asking you to pledge to avoid cruel animal venues on social media. Simply upload a photo of yourself with a sign #betterselfie and show your support to protect animals in the wild. Visit their community page for more information, and to upload your photo!

Together, we can move towards a better world, where wild animals are protected from the cruel practices of the tourism industry.

Want to do good?

Check out our calendar, and get adventurous for your favourite cause.

Photo credits: World Animal Protection


A better life for man’s best friend

The reality of life for dogs in Thailand is that they are illegally traded for their meat. Soi Dog is a charity on a mission to end the dog meat trade for good. Often, a confronting experience can be enough to propel change to end a cruel and heartless industry. Our own Danny recently took on Soi Dog’s adventure challenge, and shares his experiences and how Soi Dog is working toward a better future for dogs in Asia.

Soi Dog
Soi Dog

Tell us about Soi Dog, the charity you were on this adventure for?

Soi Dog Foundation is a not-for-profit, organisation that helps homeless, neglected and abused dogs and cats of Asia, works to end the dog meat trade throughout the region, and responds to animal welfare disasters and emergencies. They aim to set an example for the Asian region on how to humanely reduce the number of unwanted dogs and cats through spaying and neutering, and to improve the lives and living conditions of the stray dogs and feral cats of Asia.

Tell us about what each day entailed

The adventure was split into two sections: there was the northern trek in the mountains near Chiang Mai which involved staying at different villages each night. We trekked through mountains and along rice fields and stayed in homestays with local Thai families overlooking the clouds in the valleys below. Then there was the southern section down in Phuket which was very much focused on the incredible work Soi Dog does and involved us visiting the shelter each day to help out alongside the volunteers.

What did you do on the project visit?

We went to the Soi Dog rescue shelter in Phuket. It was a chance to experience first-hand where the fundraised dollars were going. We had a guided tour of the shelter and met the incredible staff. We learnt how Soi Dog operates, and the vital difference they are making.

We also spent time working with the animals at the shelter, bonding with them and taking them on walks!

What's one thing you learned that you had no idea about?

I learnt the extent of the illegal dog meat trade and how incredible the work that Soi Dog does really is. I also experienced just how much difference a group of passionate animal lovers can make when they put their determination towards fundraising for an incredible cause!

Soi Dog
Soi Dog

How did you cope with the confrontational nature of your adventure?

I found the experience at the shelter quite emotional as did all of my team. Seeing the dogs that had been rescued from an alternative fate in the dog meat trade was really quite moving. Some of the team found dogs that reminded them of their pets back home and they found that quite emotional as well – but we were all happy knowing that they were all rescued and in the safe care of the Soi Dog staff.

What is the situation for dogs in Thailand?

Since Soi Dog’s inception they have now sterilised more than 130, 000 dogs and cats across Thailand. This has had a significant and positive impact that is very evident on the streets. Soi Dog firmly believes that the only effective and humane method of achieving their objective is to spay & neuter these dogs and cats and so prevent even more unwanted animals being born and suffering death by starvation, injury and disease, or inhumane methods of culling.

Many people advocate euthanasia as a method of control. Thailand is a Buddhist country and euthanasia is not acceptable to Buddhist beliefs. Perversely many areas control dogs by poisoning, drowning at sea and other inhumane methods. Unwanted puppies and kittens are often put in boxes and plastic bags and placed on busy main roads. The logic behind this is that the animal chooses to eat the poison, the puppy or kitten is killed by a car, and drowning in the sea is a natural form of death. Soi Dog’s vets will euthanise a cat or dog but only if that animal is suffering and has no hope of recovery.

Any highlights?

There were so many great moments! From the warm ocean waters in Phuket, to trekking through jungles in Northern Thailand with the team, to seeing all the rescued street dogs and the incredible work being done at the shelter. My personal highlight was seeing one of my team members (Stephanie) not only go on to conquer every day of the trek despite the challenge but then to go to the Soi Dog shelter and sponsor a dog that will be moving back home with her next year! I know that Stephanie had an incredibly life changing experience and watching her and the team overcome challenges – both physical and mental – and witnessing them at the Soi Dog shelter which they had been fundraising for for up to a year was really incredible.

How did you feel at the very end of your adventure?

I felt very refreshed and inspired having trekked through the Northern Thai jungles and volunteered at the shelter with such an incredible and committed team. Seeing the work being done by Soi Dog at the end of our adventure and being able to be involved in a small way was a really gratifying experience that made me feel that I was part of something bigger that was really helping to make positive change in the world, one dog at a time!

Have your views changed regarding animals?

I’ve always been a HUGE animal lover, particularly of dogs and if anything, it has just reinforced this love and passion for animals. Having a team that was so passionate about animals as well was a really comforting experience and I know that they all really enjoyed being surrounded by like-minded individuals.

Any inspiring stories you can share?

There was a particularly special moment when two of my team members (Julie and Mallory) were able to meet their sponsor dogs, one of which had been macheted across his eye but since nursed back to health. He was a very happy dog – dogs are very resilient animals. It was a very awesome moment to witness!

Feeling inspired?

If you are an animal lover and want to get involved in a great cause, check out our calendar for 2017 and filter from ‘Animal Welfare’ challenges.