Last updated: 11:30 AM ET, Thu April 28 2016

Animal Activists Target TripAdvisor After Elephant Death in Cambodia

Impacting Travel | Janeen Christoff | April 28, 2016

Animal Activists Target TripAdvisor After Elephant Death in Cambodia

PHOTO: Elephant riding is coming under increasing scrutiny. (photo courtesy of Thinkstock)

Sambo, a middle-aged elephant giving rides to tourists in the Cambodian heat at Angkor Wat, collapsed and died. The elephant’s owners at Angkor Elephant Company said that the elephant died of heart failure as well as stress and shock brought on by the oppressive heat.

The company is continuing to investigate the death of Sambo but it has opened up, once again, the question of why elephant rides are still a tourist attraction to begin with. Many view the practice as cruel to the animals while companies often say that by putting the animals to work in this way, they are saving them from crueler acts by poachers in the area.

READ MORE: Phnom Penh, Ditch the Tourist Traps and Head to the Underground Party

World Animal Protection is now calling out the popular travel review website TripAdvisor in a new petition saying that the company not only lists reviews for harmful animal attractions on its website, but also actively promotes these activities.

In statement, World Animal Protection said: “TripAdvisor has privately developed an algorithm that determines how business listings are represented on their website. This algorithm can lead to even the cruelest wildlife venues being ranked highly in their Popularity Index, or even receive a ‘Certificate of Excellence.’

We’re sure TripAdvisor will agree that no place that beats or confines wild animals, forcing them to perform against their will, should be considered ‘excellent.’”

READ MORE: Riding Elephants in Burma: An Ethical Dilemma

Noting TripAdvisor’s “influence on the tourism industry,” World Animal Protection also launched a petition on that has received thousands of signatures and asks TripAdvisor to stop promoting and selling tickets to cruel wildlife tourist attractions.

For its part, TripAdvisor responded to World Animal Protection saying that: “The fact that a property, establishment or business may be listed on TripAdvisor does not represent our endorsement of that establishment.”


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