Eight locations across the globe are named Wildlife Heritage Areas
World Animal Protection and World Cetacean Alliance have launched a new global program, working in coalition with responsible travel businesses and wildlife charities, to forever change the way people view and understand wildlife.
As more people become aware that zoos and aquariums exploit animals for entertainment, Wildlife Heritage Areas will meet an increasing demand from tourists to ethically see wild animals in the wild.
“World Animal Protection and our partners are breaking new ground in the world of responsible and sustainable tourism,” says Cameron Harsh, US director of programs for World Animal Protection. “Now, travelers will be able to discover amazing destinations—whether near their own homes or abroad—where they can trust that the local communities and the incredible tourism experiences, they have created are meaningfully protecting wild animals and their homes.”
One newly designated Wildlife Heritage area, the Santa Barbara Channel Whale Heritage Area (SBCWHA), is located in the United States, less than a hundred miles outside Los Angeles. The Santa Barbara Channel, renowned for its rich biodiversity and thriving marine ecosystem, has long been a haven for over 25 different species of whales, dolphins, and porpoises. More than 15,000 Pacific gray whales migrate through the channel each year on their way to their breeding grounds in Baja, Mexico in the winter and their feeding grounds in the Arctic in the summer.
“Animals have the power to touch our hearts, inspire our minds, and deepen our connection to the natural world. By appreciating and protecting these magnificent cetaceans in their natural habitat, our hope is we not only enhance their lives but also cultivate an opportunity for tourists to understand and witness their responsibility towards keeping animals in the wild,” said Holly Lohuis, co-director of SBCWHA and local naturalist and marine educator with Island Packers, Santa Barbara Maritime Museum and Ocean Futures Society.
Additional Wildlife Heritage areas have been launched in Peru/Colombia, Brazil, Italy, Australia, Portugal, and South Africa.
Wildlife Heritage Areas provide a clear solution for eliminating the exploitation of animals by the modern tourism sector. It is long past time to end all attractions that force animals to suffer by allowing them to be ridden, touched, or posed for selfies, and to recognize that all wild animals have a right to a wild life.