TripAdvisor to stop selling tickets to distressing animal attractions

TripAdvisor is doing the right thing for the animal kingdom.

The travel review site announced Tuesday that its booking service, Viator, would no longer sell tickets to any attractions where tourists come into physical contact with captive wild animals or endangered species.

The company said the controversial animal attractions would include elephant rides, petting tigers and swimming with dolphins. This means no more distressing selfies, close encounters with possibly drugged tigers or frolicking with annoyed sea life.

The changes will be implemented by early 2017 and will affect hundreds of listings.

In addition to the ticketing ban, an educational portal will be released to help reviewers be more informed before adding their commentary to the community-based review forum. It will include links to information and expert advice on animal welfare practices, sustainable tourism and wildlife conservation. Any listing that involves animals will be marked with a paw icon and link through to the extra information.

"TripAdvisor's new booking policy and education effort is designed as a means to do our part in helping improve the health and safety standards of animals, especially in markets with limited regulatory protections," Stephen Kaufer, the president and CEO of TripAdvisor said in an online statement.

"We believe the end result of our efforts will be enabling travellers to make more thoughtful choices about whether to visit an animal attraction and to write more meaningful reviews about those attractions."

It also noted the reason the company will not actually ban animal attraction listings from its site is due to the impact both positive and negative reviews can have on the accountability of animal tourism venues.

The changes will not relate to domestic animals in petting zoos, horseback riding, feeding programs or voluntourism programs. The company already enforces a ban on any attractions that use captive animals for blood sports, such as bull fighting.

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