Wild Reminders

So I have conquered 32 countries, in my glorious 27 years on this Earth. There’s no right or wrong way to travel, but it’s 2018 – the internet is always on hand, and I’m a firm believer that you have a responsibility to do your research.

I’ve just returned home from almost a month in Vietnam. When we are young, we consider Asia to essentially be “The Jungle Book” – exotic, foreign, beautiful creatures roaming about the place. The fascination comes naturally for us, right?

Cue: reality check.

Two weeks ago, we went to a rescue bear sanctuary two hours north of Hanoi. 178 sun and moon bears reside here – all rescued from bear bile farms, some missing eyes, organs, limbs and large patches of hair.

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Even though it was made illegal in the early 90’s, bear bile is farmed all across Asia for prehistoric “medicinal” purposes – allegedly everything from aphrodisiacs to curing cancer. This is practiced by either routinely draining the gall bladder, inserting a catheter, or by removing the gall bladder all together. These 200kg animals are kept in cages smaller than the average washing machine, and 65% eventually die from lack of post surgical care.

Naturally, I was curious to see how Animals Asia combatted this. They let 20 tourists in for one day a month, and they showed us the entire park that covers 30 acres.

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Why am I telling you this?

To please do your research on Animal Tourism.

Like so many people, I wanted my exotic animal experience. However, if you can touch it, feed it, ride it or cuddle it – something is not right.

In 2015, I went to a Luwak Coffee farm in Bali (like so many of us do). I saw cages out the back that housed the animals, and food that actually had maggots in the bowl. I thought the money I paid was ensuring proper care, and naively thought that everyone in the universe looks after their prized earners. I felt like a piece of shit – and learned my lesson.

Still don’t know what I’m talking about?

– Riding elephants
– Posing with tigers for photos
– Circuses with live animals
– Most third world zoos
– Seaworld

It’s your holiday, by all means do what you like. But if my two cents for the day resonates with at least one person, I can go to sleep tonight with a clear conscience.

If you are interested in visiting the bear sanctuary mentioned, check out https://www.animalsasia.org/

 


© All text and images by Angela Wallace

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