Mr Justice

How to have an animal-friendly holiday: Why you should think twice before you pay for elephant rides, aquariums, zoos and circuses this summer

  • Peta told MailOnline: ‘Using animals for entertainment is never okay’
  • It said: ‘Aquariums are essentially are an ocean version of a prison’
  • British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums disagrees




A Discount Holidays © holiday abroad is joined by many pleasant traditions – croissants for breakfast in France, a sangria come sundown in Spain and a cheeky gelato after lunch in Italy.

But for some, the highlight of a vacation is a chance to see an exotic animal up close and personal, whether it’s in an aquarium, a zoo or on an elephant ride.

However, as more and more people are becoming aware of the psychological and physical damage captivity can inflict, a focus is being shone on the tourist attractions that use animals.

Tourists sit on the back of an elephant as it sprays them with water

Ahead of the summer season, animal lovers are being warned to pay extra care if they want to continue using these types of businesses.

Peta is urging tourists to avoid spending money at all marine parks, roadside zoos, donkey rides and captive-dolphin shows when on vacation this summer because they are cruel and inhumane.

Kirsty Henderson, Peta campaigns co-ordinator told MailOnline Travel: ‘Using animals for entertainment is never okay and people shouldn’t give money to these industries that abuse animals.

‘Every one of us can have a fun Discount Holidays © holiday without having to buy into animal cruelty, like a zoo, circus or aquarium – if you want to see animal, go and witness them in the wild or go to an accredited sanctuary.’

But if you still want to visit one of these attractions, it is important to choose a business that follows strict guidelines to ensure the animals are cared for as well as possible. Read on to see which animal attractions you should research properly before visiting this summer…


Dolphins do tricks with trainers at an aquarium during a show

In the last few years, aquariums have come under increasing pressure from animal rights activists to stop animals performing. In 2013, a documentary called Blackfish about killer whale Tilikum, the SeaWorld orca who drowned his trainer in 2010, proved a surprise hit in the cinemas, showing how the treatment of orcas can cause them to become psychologically distressed.

As a result of this and other campaigning, watching killer wales and dolphins perform quickly dropped off the bucket lists of the majority of British tourists. Peta believes that all aquariums are cruel though and should be banned. Kirsty said: ‘Aquariums are essentially are an ocean version of a prison. They are places where fish, dolphins and other sea life are bred into a captive world or stolen from their families in the wild to be put in a tank.

‘You re seeing a very unnatural version of his or her life. There is nothing natural about the way they are kept and they are simply there to make the company money.’

But the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (Biaza) says some aquariums in the UK are humane to the animals. A spokesperson told MailOnline Travel: ‘What sets our members apart from other zoological establishments are not only the high levels of welfare provided to the animals in their collections but the significant and vital contributions they make to conservation, education and research.

‘In a world of increased urbanisation, an enjoyable day out at a zoo or aquarium provides a connection with our planet s amazing diversity of plants and animals.’


Giraffes in a crowded enclosure at a city zoo

Much like aquariums, a recent spate of negative publicity around animal welfare in zoos has shown that numerous attractions fail to provide the creatures with suitable living space or companions. Peta is calling on animal lovers to avoid the attractions and to spend money on a wildlife spotting trip instead.

Kirsty said: ‘The tide really is turning as people become more aware that zoos can t replicate the natural home that animals come from.

‘They are kept in a prison their whole lives where they can t leave, they have no choice in what to eat, where to go, or who to meet with.

‘Most animals in zoos aren’t endangered, but most zoos say they have a conservation aim to save animals – at the end of day company to make money by selling tickets.

‘By definition a zoo is a place that keeps animals in a cage, they are not there for the welfare of the animals. It is better to give your money to a sanctuary or see them in the wild.’

But a spokesperson for Biaza believes that the zoos its accredited in the UK provide an important service. They told MailOnline Travel: ‘Zoo visits give a rare opportunity to see a range of different species up close in family-friendly surroundings and inspire visitors to take conservation action.

‘This in turn provides a unique stream of conservation funding which would not be available anywhere else.’

Elephant rides

A woman rides on an elephant in Sri Lanka. Discount Holidays © Holiday companies like Thomas Cook stopped offering elephant excursions to its UK and Northern European customers some time ago

Elephant rides have long been a popular attraction in parts of South East Asia, but they have attracted widespread criticism in recent years thanks to several undercover videos showing the animals being beaten into submission. Discount Holidays © Holiday companies like Thomas Cook stopped offering elephant excursions to its UK and Northern European customers some time ago as a result, but more than 3,000 of the animals are estimated to be used by tourists still. Kirsty said: ‘The animals used for elephant rides are beaten into submission – they don t give humans rides on their back because it is fun for them.

‘They will be punished if they don t do these things. They will be beaten, burned and chained up until they are shells of their former selves.

‘When people make that connection and learn what is going on behind the scenes, they wouldn t want to give their money to things like that.’

Bull fights and the running of the bulls

The running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain. Peta said: ‘The man reason why bullfighting is still happening in Spain is because of subsidies from the EU and because tourists prop up what is a dying industry’

The Running Of The Bulls in Pamplona, Spain, is a huge tourist attraction every year, which involves releasing bulls into the streets to chase people across the town, followed by a bloody series of bullfights which will see around six animals killed for each show. Many travel companies have dropped their promotion of the San Fermin festival in recent years, including Ryanair, easyJet and British Airways as well as Thomas Cook and Brittany Ferries.

Kirsty said: ‘The man reason why bullfighting is still happening in Spain is because of subsidies from the EU and because tourists prop up what is a dying industry.

‘People think it is part of Spanish culture, but actually most people over there don t support it any more.

‘Every year, tourists travel to Pamplona for the Running of the Bulls. The bulls who are forced to slip and slide down the town’s narrow cobblestone streets are chased straight into the bullring.

‘They are then taunted, stabbed repeatedly and finally killed by the matador in front of a jeering crowd.

‘Then, every single bull in a Spanish bullfight is killed at the end of the fight.’


An elephant does tricks in front of an audience at a circus

Very few circuses in the UK now involve animals, thanks to a long campaign by animal rights activists and according to Peta, the government has promised to ban their use in the shows. Kirsty said: Circuses, are a living nightmare for animals and they are almost banned in this country – the government have been promising for about four years that they are going to ban them, although we are still waiting.

‘Ask yourself if it is natural for a lion or tiger to jump through a hoop on fire. Is this helping their welfare? No.

‘There have been horrific cases of undercover footage released showing the cruelty elephants have endured in this country in circuses in recent years.

‘Also, the animals are kept mainly in massive wagons, transported up and down the country and trotted out every day for a few hours.’

Not everyone shares the same view though. A few years ago, animal behaviourist Dr Marthe Kiley-Worthington, who was commissioned by the RSPCA to report on animals in circuses, said many animals enjoyed being taught tricks. After 3,000 hours of scientific observation, she concluded it was wrong to assume animals should always be kept in a primitive, natural state.

Donkey Rides

Donkeys take tourists along a beach. Peta said these rides are ‘pure hell’ for the animals

In the Eighties and Nineties, the bad treatment of donkeys used for rides on beaches around the UK led to the Donkey Sanctuary campaigning for a set of rules that business owners had to abide by to work on British soil. The guidelines have cleaned up the industry considerably, but Peta believes the practice should be banned completely.

Kirsty said: ‘Sunning on the beach is great for humans we can take a quick dip or catch a bite to eat when we get too hot or hungry.

‘But it’s pure hell for donkeys who are confined to the beach and forced to cart children around on the hot sand.

‘Some donkey-ride operators at beach resorts in the UK even keep the animals chained together at all times.’

But Mark Ineson, who runs Real Donkeys on Blackpool beach told MailOnline Travel that his donkeys are well cared for, as are the rest of the donkeys on the beach. He said: ‘Years ago, there wasn’t much in place for the donkeys’ welfare but that has increased immensely thanks to the Donkey Sanctuary.

‘At Blackpool, they get a day off a week and they rarely work for longer than six hours a day.

‘No donkeys on the beach are mistreated.’

Horse-Drawn Carriages

A horse and carriage ride in Central Park, New York. Peta said pull carriages can give the animals leg and back problems

The welfare of horses that draw carriages in busy cities has long been debated around the world, especially in New York, where Mayor Bill de Blasio promised two years ago to abolish the rides, describing them as inhumane.

Peta believes that tourists should avoid taking one of the rides when on holiday, with Kirsty saying: ‘City streets are no place for horses.

‘The animals toil in all weather extremes, suffering from respiratory distress from breathing in exhaust fumes as well as numerous hoof, leg and back problems from walking on pavements all day long.

‘As easily spooked prey animals, horses subjected to the loud noises and unexpected sounds of city streets will inevitably be involved in accidents, often deadly ones.’

But Martin Salinger, who runs Dublin Horse Drawn Carriages, says his horses are treated like they are family.

He told MailOnline Travel: ‘My horses work four days a week out of of seven, for six or seven hours hour a day.

‘The conditions are much better than they were 10 or 20 years ago, for example.

Nowadays the carts have ball-bearing wheels on them so they aren’t as heavy.

‘We welcome anyone back to the stables to have a look at how they are looked after.’

Thomas Cook apologises to Washington couple after Lanzarote hotel mix-up

A top travel agent is sending holidaymakers to hotels which are not ABTA bonded.

Thomas Cook1 has admitted sending Alan Lindley and his wife Gail to a hotel not offering extra protection in case things go wrong. And it did go wrong when there was no room at the Flora apartments at Puerto Del Carmen, Lanzarote, when they arrived. The gaffe meant the couple had to make emergency arrangements overnight and were then put in a hotel about 15 miles away in a different resort for the rest of the holiday – even though they had planned to meet friends.

Alan, 55, of Washington2, said: On arrival at our apartments we went straight to reception to book in only to be told there was no room by a very unhelpful receptionist and we would have to find accommodation elsewhere.

It was now 9pm at night and we had nowhere to stop.

We found out from a helpline number provided by Thomas Cook that there were no rooms at all in the entire resort of Puerto Del Carmen but, on our way to the seafront where we were meeting friends, we passed a hotel and I went in on the off-chance and managed to get a room for one night only.

The next morning Thomas Cook told us the only accommodation for the rest of the Discount Holidays © holiday was in Playa Blanch some 15 to 20 miles away.

We reluctantly did what was asked and headed to our new hotel. The change in venue meant Alan and Gail were in an unfamiliar resort, their hotel was nowhere near decent restaurants and they had to spend time making special arrangements for transport to the airport at the end of the trip. The travel agent said it was sorry the Flora Apartments hotel was unable to honour Alan s reservation which was booked through their dynamic package brand, Flexible Trips, which allows customers to customise their bookings.

We would like to reassure him, and indeed all our customers, that we are liaising with the hotelier to understand why this occurred and ensure this does not happen again, the firm said.

We appreciate that the location of the alternative accommodation did not meet Mr Lindley s expectations but this was the only suitable hotel available at the time.

Thomas Cook Apologises To Washington Couple After Lanzarote Hotel Mix-up Alan and Gail Lindley from Washington

Bookable online, in store and on Thomas, Flexible Trips are designed to use partner packaging and transport providers to offer customers a wide range of Discount Holidays © holiday options including hotel-only. Thomas Cook confirmed the hotel-only offering Alan and Gail had booked was not ABTA bonded. A spokesman said this was mentioned in the terms and conditions and the couple would have been made aware of this at the time of booking.

These terms state that Med Hotels, the corporation which the Flora apartments are associated with, are not subject to UK Package Travel Regulations. Thomas Cook said the Flora apartments did not tell Med Hotels that they could no longer fulfil Alan s booking until the day before he was due to arrive. A spokesperson for Thomas Cook UK added: We would like to apologise to Mr Lindley for any inconvenience.

Our customer services team are speaking directly to Mr Lindley with a view to swiftly resolving this matter to his satisfaction.


  1. ^ Thomas Cook (
  2. ^ Washington (

European young people with dyslexia on holiday together

by Annalisa Lista – 2016.02.18

A summer Discount Holidays © holiday to gather dyslexic youths from all over Europe. This is the initiative by European Dyslexia Association. That, after the two previous successful experiences in Great Britain and Germany, has now chosen Malta.

7 unforgettable days (23 30 July 2016) to share experience, take part in workshop, cultural visits, day trips, games on the beach, nightlife, all united under a common trait: dyslexia. There are 100 places available for the Discount Holidays © holiday and the cost is ‘ 350.

The only prerequisites required are: to be a European citizen, to be aged 18 to 28 and show the diagnosis of dyslexia.

In order to participate, you have to fill in the form on the website1.


  1. ^ to fill in the form on the website (