Wildlife is mesmerising for adults and children alike but with the start of the school summer holidays, Responsible Travel’s concerns around the animal welfare and conservation impact of zoos continues. For those looking to inspire a love of animals and nature as early as possible, the online travel company and responsible tourism pioneer is suggesting seven alternative family experiences that are better than a zoo this summer.
- The Wildlife Trusts
England has a surprising abundance of wildlife right on the doorstep. The Wildlife Trusts have created their ‘top UK favourite wildlife experiences’. These experiences range from bird of prey spotting, seaside safaris including whales and dolphins, salmon run and rutting deer. The Wildlife Trusts also run sessions for families which include reptile surveying, humpback whale searches and moth identification evenings. Furthermore, all the money goes into conservation, rather than just 3% contributed by the average zoo.
The programme found that particulate pollution on board is at the levels you would expect to find in some of the world’s most polluted cities. Dr. Matt Loxham, a leading expert on air pollution and human health in shipping at Southampton University was quoted as saying “short term exposure has been shown by some studies to cause increased respiratory problems”.
- Wildlife trips close to home
Chris Packham has previously said that the rarest sight in the British countryside is a child. Conservationists have argued that it is only when children immerse themselves in nature that they will care for it. Go on a local wildlife hunt and visit your local nature reserve. The cost per day will also be much less than family entrance to a zoo. Examples include:
- European wildlife trips that won’t break the bank
This Swedish family wilderness holiday offers the chance to see moose, beavers and other wild animals from €599 and children aged eight to15 years old go half price.
Although not available in time for this summer’s school holidays, Responsible Travel has recently written to Tim Cook of Apple to suggest the idea of developing an iZoo for the future. Rather than looking at animals through bars, with Virtual Reality (VR) visitors could join them in their own worlds instead of caging them in ours.
In effect, visitors would come face to face with giant squid or humpback whales on a diving experience, or fly alongside a flock of geese. There could be daily live broadcasts from conservationists in the field, with children asking questions. By wearing VR headsets they could turn their heads, see and hear elephants grazing close by. VR will immerse people in wild habitats, inform us about real life behaviours and deliver a better education into conservation than existing zoos.
With no animals held in captivity, iZoo is also a more humane way to raise funds for conservation. The running costs will be a fraction of today’s zoos and allow for a 10% donation of revenues to field conservation projects.
- Imax cinema, London’s South Bank
Imax uses 3D to deeply immerse audiences into exotic, wild places. As an example, a screening called ‘Under The Sea’ will whisk you to Southern Australia, New Guinea and Indo-Pacific with “face-to-face encounters with some of the most mysterious and stunning creatures of the sea”. Not an aquarium in sight!
Museums are at the heart of education and have inspired children for years. The Natural History Museum in London is completely free – a special, captivating place to educate all ages. Most cities will have a natural history museum that employs Museum Educators to make learning fun.
- Blow the budget
Go all out with some of these wildlife experiences:
Costa Rica family holiday
Visit one of the greatest biodiversity hotspots from £1995.
Madagascar family holiday
Experience the world’s most evolutionary distinct wildlife from £2395.
Family luxury safari and beach holiday, South Africa and Mozambique
A once in a lifetime holiday to see the big five in their natural habitat from £3235.
For further information and high resolution iZoo images, please contact Krissy Roe at firstname.lastname@example.org or 01273 829269
About Responsible Travel
At Responsible Travel we help travellers live their dreams through authentic and life-enriching adventures, ensuring local people and wildlife benefit and being a catalyst for change in the industry.
Responsible Travel is now the world’s largest platform for ethical tour providers (with a rigorous screening process in place to ensure each company fits the guidelines to be represented on the site). The company is growing by 22% each year with its profits dependent on an ‘Honesty Box’ where tour providers voluntarily declare their commission. It is a member of ABTA.
– The holiday collection includes tours from almost 400 small, specialist and ethical tour operators
– The collective operates in 190+ countries
– In 16 years, the company has helped over 100,000 people live their travel dreams, received over 1million holiday enquiries and taken £100m in booking revenue.
Alongside the holidays it markets, Responsible Travel has two other core programmes to drive positive change in the tourism industry:
– Activism – campaigning for more responsible types of tourism worldwide.
– Trip for a Trip – Funding a day trip for a disadvantaged child in a developing country for every holiday booking (where the customer opts in).
CEO Justin Francis has been included in Courvoisiers The Future 500, Thames and Hudsons 60 Innovators Shaping Our Creative Future and taken his place on the Advisory Board of The International Centre for Responsible Tourism.