There are a few things we need to talk about—like what counts as entertainment and what DOESN’T. While we can spend our summer days being carefree and eating vegan ice cream, animals held captive in zoos, circuses, and marine parks NEVER get a vacation. 🙁
Captive elephants, tigers, orcas, dolphins, bears, and other animals might have been stolen from their homes and families in the wild. They may be beaten with bullhooks or shocked with electric prods. Kept in incompatible groups, some may be bullied by other animals, and some may become so stressed from being confined to tiny cages, tanks, or pits that they attack people. Check out our list of what counts as entertainment and what definitely doesn’t.
If you’re jonesing to get some one-on-one time with nature, you need to hit the trails ASAP. Spend a day in the woods, hike to a waterfall, or wander through a canyon and listen to the soothing soundtrack of birds chirping, the wind blowing, or the trickle of a flowing stream. Many state parks—some of which also serve as protected habitats for endangered plants and animals—offer a variety of scenic trails for all skill levels that will allow you to observe nature in all its glory. Bonus points if you catch a beautiful sunrise or sunset!
Seeing animals in cages tells you very little about their species and how they behave in the wild, since their needs are rarely met in captivity. Zoos often breed animals primarily because cute babies attract more visitors—not because they’re trying to preserve the species. Most animals born in captivity are never released into the wild.
ENTERTAINMENT: MUSIC FESTIVALS
Our favorite tour ever, Warped Tour, has vendors, a ton of talented bands that WANT to perform for you, and, of course, the peta2 booth—where we give out loads of free stickers, DVDs, and more. Warped Tour not going through your town? Chances are, there are probably about a million other music festivals happening nearby where you can go rock your face off without exploiting animals. It’s a win-win situation!
Buying a ticket to a circus that uses animals directly supports the physical, emotional, and mental abuse of animals. Think about it: Tigers are naturally afraid of fire, yet in circuses, they’re forced to jump through rings of fire. So … how scared must they be of their trainers for them to do that?! Footage has shown that big cats are whipped, smacked, and yelled at during training. Definitely NOT entertainment.
ENTERTAINMENT: MOVIE NIGHT
Sometimes, we just want to relax on the couch with a giant bowl of popcorn and some delicious accidentally vegan candy and watch all the Harry Potter movies in a row. Get your snack on and enjoy a night in—bonus points if you watch some cool animal documentaries! Here’s a list of our faves.
NOT: BUYING TICKETS TO MOVIES THAT USE ANIMALS
Unlike humans, no great ape ever dreams of becoming a star of the big screen. For chimpanzees and orangutans, performing is stressful and confusing. In order to force young apes to perform on cue, trainers often strike the animals with their fists, clubs, or even broom handles. The presence of American Humane Association representatives on set is no guarantee that the animals weren’t exploited, hurt, or even killed, as inspectors don’t monitor the animals’ living conditions or preproduction training.
ENTERTAINMENT: BOATING OR KAYAKING
You can experience the mind-blowing beauty of marine life up close by renting some kayaks or taking a boat ride out to sea. Before booking a boat tour, ask about the company’s code of conduct to ensure that the operation is responsible and doesn’t put animals at risk. A day on the water might include spotting a variety of animals—like sea lions, otters, whales, curious dolphins (who’ve been known to follow alongside boats), pelicans, bald eagles, and others—as they’re meant to be: free in the wild.
NOT: MARINE PARKS
So … orcas are really smart and can swim, like, 100 miles a day. How’s THAT for a star athlete, eh?! Too bad orcas at SeaWorld and other marine parks are forced to live in concrete bathtubs, where they can only swim in endless circles when they’re not being forced to perform stupid tricks.
ENTERTAINMENT: ANIMAL SANCTUARY
A trip to an animal sanctuary is a definite MUST for true animal lovers. Meet some rescued animals and learn about their stories and what you can do to help them and others like them in the future. Don’t be duped by unscrupulous posers—only support facilities that are accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries.
NOT: ROADSIDE ANIMAL DISPLAYS
The stress that animals living in unnatural environments in roadside zoos endure can cause abnormal and self-destructive behavior such as swaying, pacing, and even self-mutilation. This behavior rarely happens in the wild but is regularly seen in animals who are confined to zoos. This is referred to as “zoochosis,” a disturbing and unnatural psychological condition.
ENTERTAINMENT: THE BEACH
Claim your spot on the sand and bust out a good book, because the beach is all about relaxing! Get comfortable and spend some time soaking up the sun with friends or family, paddle out and catch some surf, or just chillax.
NOT: MARINE PARKS
If you’re a dolphin at a marine park, some trainer jerk may treat you like you’re his effing surfboard! And unlike when YOU go surfing, there’s no endless horizon in those small tanks. To get dolphins to perform dumb tricks, trainers isolate these highly intelligent and social animals or deprive them of food .
ENTERTAINMENT: SPORTING EVENTS
Round up some friends and head to the ball game—it’ll give you plenty of time to catch up with your pals, and you’ll see some amazing athletes strutting their stuff.
The Ringling Bros. circus tears baby elephants away from their mothers, The young elephants are bound, forced to the ground, threatened with bullhooks, and chained to break their spirit and force them to perform confusing and dangerous tricks. SO HEARTBREAKING!