Peace Crane by Hilary Taylor

Peace Crane by Hilary Taylor
Picture by Justin Wyatt
To read Hilary's story buy this special book...

This magical story has a touch of the supernatural. When an injured crane is found and nursed, something happens, something magical and inspiring...

Gentle Footprints launched- AS SEEN ON TV

Gentle Footprints was officially launched Fri June 4th at the Hay Festival with guest speaker Virginia McKenna and some of the authors

Buy from Bridge House Publishing by clicking on the link BUY:


Virginia McKenna at Hay Launch

Virginia McKenna at Hay Launch

Animal Anthology To Raise Funds for Born Free

Bridge House Publishing announce new book coming Spring 2010. For more about Bridge House please see their website.
This book is the annual charity book for Born Free...if you want to get involved with promoting and selling this book- email me!

Visit the Born Free Website to find out more about their valuable work...

Visit the Born Free Website to find out more about their valuable work...

Friday, 19 March 2010

Animals and the Travel Industry

I strongly urge anyone who cares about animals to think very seriously about how animals play a role in your holiday experiences. Zoos? Wildlife parks? Posing for photos (animals as props), animal shows, animal attractions, animals in casinos, sea world... we've all done it and we've all read that they have the animal's interest at heart, the zoo says it does loads for conservation. DON'T BE FOOLED.
What about wildlife holidays? Is it okay for loads of jeeps to get really close to wild animals- take the perfect photo... that's okay though right? These are not captive animals... but what are you doing to the environment? Affecting the animals? There are good and bad tours and we have to be responsible and consider this aspect.

Born Free are worling very closely with ABTA for the sustainable holiday. They want to rule out the kind of animal attractions we have all seen and dare I say it even enjoyed. But at what cost?

Last night I attended a debate hosted by Donnal McKintyre (in the finals of the ice dancing last year) with panelists that included Patrick Woodhead (Antarctic explorer), Simon Calder travel TV writer and writer for the Independent, The ABTA CEO and the CEO ot TUI the travel company... oh and of course Virginia McKenna with a video link to her son, CEO of Born Free Will Travers who is currently at CITES fighting for rights for animals.

The message is very clear- it's about education. I know all of the authors and I should imagine the readers of GF will consider themselves animal lovers as I do very very much. But only last year I paid to go into the animal exhibit at the Mirage Hotel in Vegas. Sure I knew they were caged animals but I love animals and I wanted to see them. Besides they say they are conservation minded. The dolphins are not performing ones... yes but the animals are caged. The tiger paces (displacement behaviour) and the dolphins live in swimming pools. I won't go again. Not now. But millions do.

And yes I stood and gawped at the lion in the MGM grand. I knew it was wrong. I said it but I watched anyway- why? Because I am an animal lover. Hmmm...

And to top it all on the same trip I went to San Diego Zoo- it's huge, it does loads for conservation... it's okay because I love animals. Hmmmm... these are caged animals and I saw some of them pacing too. Maybe we all need to re-educate.

We think it's great to teach kids about animals... but as Virginia McKenna has said...and I quite agree "You do not learn about human behaviour watching a man in a prison cell."
You do not expect the Statue of Liberty that you are dying to see to be built in Manchester... London... Bangor... you go to it. I think we need to think the same about animals. But if we go to them- we have to do it responsibly.

In a survey by the BBC in 2004 the question was posed what the is the biggest thing you want to do before you die? Top answer: Swim with dolphins. I feel the same. But what Born Free pointed out that even swimming in the sea with dolphins these animals are being exploited and have been trained by food rewards. So perhaps this isn't good either. What sick children benefit from by the close contact with these animals might just be the feeling we all get being close to animals and maybe a relationship with a dog or a cat will be just as theraeutic.

I guess what I'm saying is we need to think.
My feeling is if you can't see an animal in the wild, best not to see it at all.

I was very moved by what was said last night and it really made me think about how this message needs to get across.

Rant ends but it is important so I wanted to share.

To find out more check out

And on a nice note Virginia McKenna said lovely things about the book and the diversity of the stories and is looking forward to meeting those of you that will be at Hay! I will upload a photo from last night when I get back to Wales!

Please do post your comments and get some thoughts going on this. Pass the link on to everyone! Debz


  1. Definitely a lot of food for thought there. Perhaps if we all live in the moment a little more we will not need to be amazed by the exotic.
    I've just looked out of my window and seen a woodpecker.If you pause to think about that, it is truly amazing.
    Not to say anything about my gorgeous swans who are just a few feet away.

  2. Great post Debz.

    I've never liked caged animals, I've always found it to be a gross misuse of our power - the ultimate in human control - to commit animals to a lifetime of misery or, at best, numbness, because they are never their true selves when kept in those conditions.

    And I thought it was awful last bonfire night when the safari parks were hosting huge firework displays! I mean, what is all that about?! Very conservation minded, I must say.These places are usually about profit and nothing else, I'm afraid.

  3. Yep I agree. Like you Debz I went to San Diego Zoo thinking it was big on conservation and was appalled by some of the behaviour animals displayed. There was a Polar bear which constantly dived in the pool, swam and then repeated over and over with no variation. It was clearly distressed.

    We need to be very responsible when visiting such 'attractions'. On principle I have never, nor will I ever visit dolphinariums or Sea World and the like. I did whale watch off Gloucester Massachusetts however, but I made sure it was WDCS approved. Even so I was a bit concerened how many boats were in the vicinity of the Humpbacks whilst they were feeding.

    A good place to see dolphins from the land is Chanary Point on the Moray Firth. At least you can be sure that you are not disturbing their life in any way.

    It would be good if we could have a definitive list of all the approved organisations. Mind you that is quite a difficult task. It's so confusing when they say they use the entrance fee etc to keep other animals in the wild. The problem is the ones in captivity have to suffer in the meantime, how can that be right?

    I think they would be best served by putting their energies into full time conservation. A small fee could be charged for education programmes and this could be ploughed back into the cause...but then profit would suffer and that would never do would it?