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Editorial JUNE 2024

TV Spotlight On Intolerable Cruelty Is Hard To Bear

It seems there are no limits on what you will see advertised on TV these days.

From stool softeners to flatulence, condoms to tampons, no bodily function is sacrosanct – I even saw an ad requesting we use less loo paper the other night!

There is one ad in particular, however, that is hard to watch for a whole different reason.

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Seeing bears caged and tortured in order to perform for tourists, or else milked for bile is heart-breaking. In the 21st century it’s staggering that such barbaric practices are still taking place.

Fortunately, there are steps being taken and people leading the fight to end this cruelty.

The inspirational Neil Rodgers, the Managing Director of Adventure World Australia, went to Vietnam recently and posted on Linkedin about his visit to the Tam Dao sanctuary run by The Animals Asia Foundation.

Among the animals rescued there is Dawn the moon bear who spent an agonising 20 years living in a cage on a bile farm before being rescued (I’m typing these words through watery eyes right now…).

Fortunately she is now living her best life and Neil wrote movingly about witnessing the recovery of these magnificent creatures.

“When an animal exposes the most vulnerable part of their body, their belly, you know they are at peace and content,” he wrote.

“I honestly wept today witnessing this sight, knowing the enormous cruelty that this beautiful bear has been subjected to previously, and agonisingly aware of those that still need our rescue right now.”

Adventure World are working on an initiative with the Foundation and will be seeing the travel industry’s support. The motto will be “No bear left behind.” Count us in, Neil.

Animal welfare is one of the three main pillars of the Make Travel Matter initiative, which Adventure World supports along with all the brands in The Travel Corporation. These carefully selected experiences enable travellers to truly give something back to the people, places and animals that they visit.

I had a fascinating chat with Caryn Young, Adventure World’s General Manager for this issue (Why Making Travel Matter Really Matters) and asked her why Aussies should choose Make Travel Matter experiences when booking their next holiday?

“My question would be: why wouldn’t you? Would you not rather support a local community or travel where you are having a positive impact on where you’re going? I think it’s really a no-brainer.”

Chatting to Caryn reminded me of a visit I made to an animal welfare organisation in Asia. They were taking stray dogs off the street, neutering them and then trying to rehome them, mainly abroad in countries such as America, Canada and the UK.

COVID put a major hole in both their budget and their ability to move these animals on to a better life. When I visited, there were scores of dogs in cages, waiting for their chance to come.

While I applauded their intentions, it was nevertheless heart-breaking to see those dogs in cages. I guess sometimes in life when we try to do the right thing, it doesn’t always work out as we’d planned or hoped.

Thankfully for those bears in Vietnam, there is light at the end of a very dark tunnel.

https://www.animalsasia.org/

https://www.adventureworld.com/en-au/who-we-are/mtm-experiences

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