✔️Elephant print baggy trousers

✔️Picture at a temple

✔️A visit to a stunning beach

✔️An evening on Khao San Road

✔️Picture from a Bangkok rooftop bar

✔️Picture with a tiger

                                …wait, what?

Traveling Thailand is something I cannot recommend highly to people who love culture, food, adventure and beauty. Whether you go as a family, with friends, a partner or alone, it is a country which truly welcomes all. However, when exploring this country, there seems to be a standard checklist of things people to do document their time there which is bringing harm, abuse and suffering to innocent animals.

With Asia being home to multiple species of tiger, it is no wonder people are fascinated by these creatures and long to see one for themselves. However, the prospective profits from using tigers from tourism have resulted in the capture and ill-treatment of these poor animals. In the last century alone, the population of tigers has fallen by 95% which is an astronomical number and a huge loss to the animal kingdom.

A tiger is a wild animal, a predator, a large cat and… unsurprisingly, extremely dangerous, of course. Yet, people are posing lying across the back of these huge animals without the animals seeming to have any kind of reaction to this. Is this a new breed of tiger which has been tamed beyond the the placidity of a house cat? Absolutely not. In fact, these animals are so placid because, quite simply, they are drugged. They are sedated to the point where they are non-responsive when a human being sits right next to them and this makes me so incredibly sad.

Humans have visited zoos for thousands of years with the first record of a public zoo dating back to 1500 BC.  Among other popular ‘attractions’ such as elephants, giraffes and lions, tigers are very commonly found in zoos around the world. In fact, in the United States alone, there are estimated to be 5000 tigers in captivity which is considerably more than the 3200 estimated to remain in the wild worldwide. When found in zoos, tigers are kept behind ten foot caged walls and thick glass. This is for good reason: these animals are dangerous. From this level of protection for the public in western zoos, tourists can arrive in Thailand and sit next to a tiger for less money than it would cost to enter a zoo. This encounter will be with no glass, no fence and no safety barriers.

For people who love animals, I can understand their desire to get up close and personal with these animals. But, we are objectifying these animals and treating them as if their purpose on this earth is solely for our entertainment. That is not right.

Moreover, travellers have been injured. The use of these sedatives are not regulated nor are they one hundred percent effective at ensuring your safety. Furthermore, and more importantly, these animals deserve to be free. Sedated and chained to a bench for the purpose of an Instagram or Facebook photo is not why tigers have roamed Planet Earth for over 2 million years. Their purpose is greater than to serve our photographic needs.

Ask yourself: is the photo worth the loss of that tiger’s freedom?

You need only imagine a human chained up and sedated for human entertainment to create a mass of objection and outrage against human rights. Human or animal, we need to recognise the value or life in every species, not simply those we deem deserving of their liberty.

Before you visit one of these places, which is suggested enthusiastically by your tuk tuk or taxi driver, ask yourself: is it worth the risk to your safety and your life? Is the tiger’s loss of liberty worth the photo? What message are you sending by spending your money at these establishments? Supply meets demand and if they are not making any money, these places will cease to exist.

There are a number of places where you can journey through the tiger’s natural habitats in the hope of spotting them living happily and free. Alternatively, we live in the digital age and documentaries, using the most incredibly footage from natural habitats, are available for us to learn more about these animals without endangering their lives in the process. How can we harm the animals we claim to love? Very soon, these animals, alike many others that humans claim to ‘love’, will be on the brink of extinction as a result of human exploitation. We should act now, shouldn’t we, before it is too late?

Deven Savage: globetrotter, teacher, vegan, yogi, animal lover and a passionate cook. I am 26 years old and have been traveling since 2014, across 4 continents and over 25 countries (so far) with an infinite bucket list and a passion for picturesque natural beauty. I can always be found with a camera in hand and compassion in my heart as I advocate veganism when I travel the world.