Tag Archives: caged

TripAdvisor says it’s taking a stand on animal exploitation

TripAdvisor says it’s taking a stand against animal exploitation by no longer selling bookings to attractions where travelers can make physical contact with captive wild animals or endangered species.

The policy, six months in the making, was formed with input from tourism, animal welfare and conservation groups including the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, but many of the millions of travelers who post reviews to the company’s website have been concerned about animal welfare for years, company spokesman Brian Hoyt said.

The company, based in Needham, Massachusetts, also will start providing links on its site to take users to educational research on animal welfare and conservation.

“TripAdvisor’s new booking policy and education effort is designed as a means to do our part in helping improve the health and safety standards of animals, especially in markets with limited regulatory protections,” said Stephen Kaufer, TripAdvisor’s president.

But the president of the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums said she was “disappointed” TripAdvisor never consulted her Virginia-based organization, whose members include branches of the SeaWorld and Six Flags theme parks and dozens of other marine life parks, aquariums and zoos internationally.

“It’s an unjust demonization of the interactive programs that are at the heart of modern zoo and aquarium programs,” president Kathleen Dezio said. “They give guests the magic, memorable experiences that make them want to care about these animals and protect them in the wild.”

The TripAdvisor policy, announced Tuesday, is in line with increasing public sentiment against the exploitation of wild animals to entertain people. SeaWorld this year announced it would stop using killer whales for theatrical performances, while Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus last year stopped using elephants.

TripAdvisor will cease booking some attractions immediately, but the policy, which may affect hundreds of businesses, takes full effect early next year.

In announcing the policy, which also applies to the affiliated Viator booking website, TripAdvisor specifically mentioned elephant rides, swim-with-the-dolphins programs and tiger petting.

Several U.S. businesses that offer such attractions did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The policy does not apply to horseback rides and children’s petting areas with domesticated animals. It also exempts attractions such as aquarium touch pools where there are educational benefits and visitors are professionally supervised.

TripAdvisor won’t bar user reviews of tourist attractions, even those it stops booking. The company has long banned reviews of businesses that use animals for blood sport, including bullfights.

A San Francisco-based travel analyst, Henry Harteveldt, said because TripAdvisor is so widely used the wildlife attractions could see a noticeable hit to their business.

However, if TripAdvisor merely stops selling the tickets but continues listing the attractions, he said, the effect won’t be long-lasting. He said those attractions may just go through other booking websites to sell tickets.

TripAdvisor said if a wildlife attraction changes its business model it would consider selling tickets again.

 

Egg-producing factory farm focus of undercover investigation

The Humane Society of the United States on June 7 released findings from an undercover investigation at New England’s largest egg-producing factory farm that supplies eggs to several states.

The facility in Turner, Maine, is operated by Pennsylvania-based Hillandale Farms and owned by Jack DeCoster, described by the Humane Society as a notorious egg magnate whose “filthy facilities in Iowa led to a 2010 Salmonella outbreak that was the largest in the industry’s history and that sickened tens of thousands of people.”

The investigation was conducted in the spring at the complex — about 70 warehouses confine about 4 million laying hens, according to the investigators.

In the 10-unit factory farm where the HSUS investigator worked, about 450,000 hens produce 420,000 eggs each day.

The investigator found hens sharing cages with dead animals. Some of the birds were mummified and stuck to the wire cage floor, meaning they’d been lying dead in the cages for months.

• Hens confined in cages packed so tightly, the animals couldn’t spread their wings.

Hens were found trapped by their necks, wings and feet in rusty cages.

Hens were found with bloody prolapses.

Hens were found with facial abnormalities.

Hens were found standing in waste.

Equipment was found coated in cobwebs, chicken feathers and feces.

Poisoned rodents were found and cages and combined with chicken manure to sell for fertilizer.

Chicken manure build-up in barns oozed on floors.

Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS, wrote in a statement, “The last year has seen a torrent of announcements from major companies like McDonald’s and Walmart touting that they’re starting to switch to 100 percent cage-free eggs.

“As important and exciting as these corporate policies are, as of today, nine out of 10 egg-laying chickens in the United States are still locked inside cages where they can’t even spread their wings. We must accelerate the transition away from these inherently inhumane production systems and embrace a cage-free future.”

Hillandale Farms issued this statement in response to the investigative report:

“At Hillandale Farms, we take great pride in the quality of eggs we produce and have high standards for hen care and egg safety.

“When we took over management of the Maine farms last July, we were aware the barns were aging. Since then, we have invested in equipment and process upgrades to enhance our production operations, as well as expanded training for our team members.

“We reviewed the video and we are investigating the practices in the barns where this footage may have been captured to ensure this is addressed immediately. The worker who shot the video did not meet Hillandale’s standard of care and is no longer employed by us. For example, it is our practice that any mortality be removed from cages within a day.

“We have engaged our farm veterinarian, food safety and quality assurance teams to act swiftly to assure that we meet or exceed all animal health and food safety guidelines. In addition, we have reached out proactively to ask the Maine Department of Agriculture to conduct an immediate inspection.”

On the Web…

The egg industry in the United States.

Undercover investigation of a Hillandale egg farm in Maine. — The Humane Society of the United States
Undercover investigation of a Hillandale egg farm in Maine. — The Humane Society of the United States