Tourists in Bali are asked to follow animal welfare guidelines at top attractions

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With the start of the holiday season in Bali, over one million tourists pack their bags and prepare to fly to paradise.

As many of Bali’s top attractions include animals as entertainment, an animal welfare organization is urging tourists to make wise decisions when it comes to where to visit and whether they interact with animals.

Sumatran elephant under trees on grass.jpg

Four Paws Australia has urged tourists heading to Bali in the coming weeks, months and years to prioritize animal welfare when planning their activities and day trips.

While many organizations in Bali claim to offer animal sanctuary or the highest humane conditions, investigations have found just the opposite.

Most animals used in Bali’s tourism sector are at risk of exploitation.

Activities such as taking selfies with elephants, tigers, orangutans and other primates have been identified as dangerous to both humans and animals by leading wildlife experts over the past decade and detrimental to the health and welfare of the animals themselves.

Speaking to reporters, the national director of Four Paws Australia, Rebecca Linigen, urged tourists to make responsible decisions during their stay in Bali. She said: “We encourage everyone to appreciate the beauty of the island.”

Adding “but we also want to share guidance on how to make small but impactful changes to protect multiple animals while on vacation in Bali.”

As an animal welfare organisation, Four Paws Australia has created a range of guidelines to help tourists avoid facilities with poor animal welfare standards.

The NGO urges tourists not to engage in activities that involve feeding, touching or holding animals. Tourists are also asked to avoid elephant shows, elephant bathing and elephant riding.

Linigen told reporters: “Ethical animal tourism sites will be transparent about their practices, will not encourage direct contact with animals and will not allow the breeding, trade or hunting of animals.”

Four Paws Australia has been operating for 35 years and has long visited Bali to check the situation on the ground.

Their team has seen the treatment of animals on the island from all angles. The NGO wrote: “In Bali, a number of places offering elephant rides refer to themselves as ‘elephant sanctuaries.’ “This often confuses tourists who believe their money is going to a good place.”

Sumatran elephant

They state, “Officially regulated sanctuaries will never encourage excessive human-animal interaction such as riding.”

The Four Paws Australia Council reflects the findings of the 2023 World Animal Protection investigation into living conditions and welfare standards at animal tourism facilities in Bali and Lombok.

The intensive undercover investigation revealed that, according to their criteria, there were no facilities for ethical animal tourism in the two provinces.

The international animal welfare NGO has launched a campaign called Holidays That Harm, designed to help inform tourists about how and why animal tourism is exploitative and how tourists can ensure they are not supporting unscrupulous destinations.

The head of Global Animal Protection Campaigns, Suzanne Milthorpe, urged animal lovers to avoid all tourist attractions in Bali that are home to animals due to the findings of the investigation.

She told reporters: “What we found is that no wildlife entertainment facility in Bali meets good welfare standards for captive animals, and most do not even meet basic needs.”

The investigation revealed that ten of the sites assessed during the undercover investigation included Mason Elephant Lodge, Bali Zoo, Bali Safari Marine Park and Bali Exotic Marine Park, all of which were categorized as wildlife entertainment venues and do not meet the highest standards of animal welfare in the world Protection will be happy to support as animal friendly.


Milthorpe reminded tourists that some facilities in Bali appear to operate as highly social facilities but are actually “masquerading” as sanctuaries or rescue facilities.

The full report is available on the World Animal Protection website, and the concluding statements are quite damning.

The organization wrote in June 2023, “Wildlife conditions at tourist sites in Bali and Lombok remain deeply troubling, with the welfare of many animals severely compromised and no significant improvement seen since 2017.”

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