Stats: 77% of Americans Have Seen Animal Cruelty on Vacation

Amur tiger
Photo by andreaskrappweis/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

New research from flight comparison site has found that more than three quarters of Americans on vacation have witnessed some form of animal cruelty, neglect or abuse. Thailand, Mexico and Brazil are the most common locations where the abuse occurred, according to the report, which was based on a survey of more than 4,200 Americans over the age of 18 who had taken at least one international vacation within the past five years. 

Of the three quarters of Americans that have witnessed animal cruelty, 41 percent said they had been to a show where they had seen it, and one in five had partaken in the act themselves, whether knowingly (as 10% did) or otherwise.

The report initially found that nearly one third of Americans (29%) have taken part in some form of animal experience when on holiday, with snorkeling/scuba diving (42%), swimming with dolphins (26%) and going on a safari (11%) the most popular activities.


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Next, respondents were asked whether they had witnessed any form of animal cruelty, abuse or neglect while on an international vacation. More than three quarters of respondents (77%) said that they had. Of those that had seen some form of cruelty or neglect, 63 percent said that they had seen a stray and/or underfed animal in the street.

A further two fifths (41%) said that they had been to a show or performance where they had watched animal cruelty taking place, although the majority (58%) said that they would not go again if they had the chance.

One in five traveling Americans (19%) said that they had explicitly taken part in an activity that could be considered animal cruelty, although just 10 percent said that they were aware of this at the time. Riding elephants (43%) and posing for pictures with sedated animals (31%) were found to be the most common cases of this. Seventy percent of these say they would not partake in these activities again.

Those that had either been to a show where they had witnessed animal cruelty or taken part themselves were asked why they did so. The most popular reason was to get pictures for social media (38%).

When asked which country they had been visiting when they had witnessed animal cruelty, the top destinations were:

  1. Thailand – 38 percent
  2. Mexico – 32 percent
  3. Brazil – 31 percent
  4. Spain – 30 percent
  5. Argentina – 18 percent

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