This topic deserves a thorough discussion, but we'll try to sum it up right here in a quick post. Animals in SE Asia do not have comfortable lives. We're talking dogs, lizards, cats, monkeys, elephants, and more that suffer a daily abuse from the humans around them.
Some of the abuse can be blamed on tourism, but much of it actually has to do with a long history of cultural and medicinal values. Although science has gone on to prove many times over that tiger bones and shark fin oil won't cure anybody's long or short term ailments the way antibiotics can, people in rural Asian countries still believe in traditional medicine as a way of life. As a result, animals the rest of the world considers as pets or even protected get farmed for meat and killed for the sake of "medicine."
Elephant riding attractions are a bad place. Elephants are sensitive creatures with remarkable memories and emotions. In order to prepare an elephant for human contact, people beat the animal and torture it psychologically and physically for many years. Avoid elephant farms at all costs!
If you still want to see elephants while in Asia, check out this facility in Thailand.
Monkeys are wild animals with feelings and very strong muscles. In Bali's Monkey Forest, monkeys roam free within a lightly gated area of forest. Sometimes these monkeys venture out to rice fields or neighboring streets to steal goods. It is not uncommon for humans to kill these monkeys out of fear or anger. Perhaps if the fencing was more secure, monkeys would not be able to wander into danger.
For tips on visiting the Monkey Forest, click here.
Dogs are everywhere. In Thailand we saw locals feeding street dogs, but also many eating out of trash bags. In Indonesia we saw street dogs with bald spots and fleas. It is common to see dogs sleeping in temples and on the street during the day. When walking around at night, try to avoid any contact with street dogs. If they bark at you, walk away slowly and do not make eye contact. Although many Asian countries still have no laws against farming, selling, and consuming dog meat, Thailand puts its dog farmers in prison.
For more information about helping dogs around the world, click here or here (graphic images).
To volunteer to save street dogs in Thailand, sign up here.
If you are a cat lover be ready to hear some bad news. Not only do cats face many of the same horrific fates as dogs in Asia, but many of their larger relatives are facing extinction because of poaching for meat, bones, and fur. Think twice before getting trapped in to visiting attractions like Thailand's Tiger Temple. Tigers, like monkeys, are wild (carnivorous) animals that have no business being chained to a cement floor for some clueless tourist to take a Facebook selfie.
To volunteer for the Wildlife Rescue Center in Thailand, click here.
Though animals have difficult all around the world these days, the horrors of what these innocent creatures withstand in Asia is beyond unacceptable. As animal lovers and dog owners we urge anyone traveling to Asia to remain aware of their surroundings and refrain from supporting any form of animal torture.