PETA Video Calls Attention to Animal Abuse at Egyptian Tourist Sites
A graphic video released by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) on April 13 shows animals living under harsh and abusive conditions in major Egyptian tourist sites. Camels and horses are shown slipping and stumbling on smooth surfaces; some animals have open wounds because drivers and other workers whip them to make them go faster; other animals collapse due to exhaustion.
In addition to the poor working conditions, animals that are no longer able to work are returned to places such as Birqash Camel Market where they will be killed.
PETA is calling on tourists to boycott working animals at Egypt’s tourist sites, such as at the pyramids of Giza or the Valley of the Kings in Luxor.
“Tourists who pay to go for a ride are keeping these operations in business,” said PETA on its website.
There are similar calls to end animal abuse in places such as Santorini, Greece and within Thailand’s tourism industry. In Santorini, the “In Their Hooves” campaign calls on tourists not to ride on donkeys that are at risk of suffering from spinal injuries, sores and exhaustion. In Thailand, Elephant Nature Park founder Sangdeaun Lek Chailert has developed the “Saddle Off!” initiative which promotes ethical elephant tourism.
PETA had been directly pushing Egypt’s tourism ministry to end animal cruelty, releasing the video in part to create international support for their campaign. Ashley Fruno, PETA’s director of animal assistance programs, told the New York Times that “Such abuse has no place in modern tourism.”
However, claimed reforms in the tourism industry do not always lead to actual improvements. Greenwashing — unsubstantiated claims that a product, service, technology, or company practice are environmentally beneficial — is widely used in tourism. Tourists who want to be conscious of animal-rights and environmental issues must be willing to do in-depth research in order to find places that do not create false promises of ethical traveling.
The global tourism industry harms animals, ecologies, and livelihoods and must be reconfigured into a more just industry. Egypt’s camels, horses, and donkeys are but some of the few animals that are subject to harsh conditions so that tourists can have enjoyable experiences. It is important to recognize the complex reasons underlying the tourism industry’s development and avoid tendencies to attribute animal abuse to local culture or habits.