World Animal Protection Announces 1st Wildlife-Friendly Collaboration In The Educational Travel Industry

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An elephant in a high-welfare venue in Thailand. Photo by Thomas Cristofoletti, World Animal Protection

International animal welfare organization World Animal Protection announced that EF Education First, the world leader in international education, is working with their organization to assist in the development of a new animal welfare policy and the implementation of animal welfare guidelines throughout EF’s educational travel programs. The collaboration is the first in the educational travel industry.

“We are excited to announce World Animal Protection’s collaboration with EF, which will bring positive change for animals around the world for many generations,” Alesia Soltanpanah, Executive Director, World Animal Protection, U.S., said in a statement. “While most tourists are unaware of the hidden cruelty behind elephant rides, swimming with dolphins, and tiger selfies, EF can make a real difference, by teaching travelers how to identify and avoid inhumane wildlife tourist attractions. We will continue to work with EF to build animal-friendly travel experiences and stop tourism to wildlife attractions that are harmful to animals.”

As part of this initiative, EF has committed to reviewing all activities involving animals across all of its travel brands, which include but are not limited to: EF Go Ahead Tours, EF Educational Tours, EF College Study Tours, EF Ultimate Break, EF Gap Year, and EF Explore America. 

The review will ensure all animal-related activities meet high standards of animal welfare, phasing out the sale and promotion of attractions that include performances by wild animals and experiences that include handling, touching, posing with or riding wild animals.

“EF has always strived to work with suppliers who have high standards of animal welfare, but we felt that we could still do more in this area,” said Dr. Edward Hult, CEO, EF North America.

The company has also committed to provide training to its staff and tour directors worldwide to help them identify wildlife-friendly travel options and the types of attractions to avoid.

As an additional measure, EF has signed World Animal Protection’s elephant-friendly travel pledge, publicly committing to no longer sell or promote attractions that offer elephant rides and shows. EF joins a movement of more than 200 travel-focused companies around the world that have committed to stop selling cruel elephant entertainment. By signing the pledge, EF will improve the lives of elephants around the world and help move the global travel industry towards a wildlife-friendly future.

“EF is proud to take a leading role in enhancing animal welfare throughout the travel industry with this initiative,” said Hult. “We deliver life-changing educational experiences to our travelers every day, and although these kinds of experiences have never been a significant part of any of our travel itineraries, we have the power to change the lives of wild animals around the world by making animal welfare a priority, eliminating cruel activities like elephant rides from our tours, and by educating our travelers about animal-friendly travel.”

Through its Wildlife Not Entertainers campaign, World Animal Protection works with travel companies around the world, revealing the hidden cruelty behind the scenes at wild animal entertainment venues, to help bring about a world where animals live free from suffering.

To date, 214 travel companies around the world have ended sales and promotion of elephant rides and shows by signing the elephant-friendly pledge or making a commitment to wildlife-friendly travel policies.

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