Take Home the Gold, Not Ivory

By on August 5, 2008 with 0 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

The 29th Summer Olympics are set to open this week in Beijing, and millions of non-nationals are trekking there to watch the games. It is a nation known notoriously to animal advocates for its harsh and exploitative treatment of wild and domesticated animals, and it is timely for The HSUS and our global affiliate, Humane Society International, to offer some humane ground rules. Staff members informed by their personal and professional experiences pooled their knowledge to produce a short guide to purchasing and consumption. 

© HSI/Teresa Telecky
Avoid buying items that might contain
parts of endangered animals.

Our list encourages travelers to avoid the purchase of ivory and other products from animals protected under CITES and related treaties, to stay away from shark fin soup, and to be cautious about pharmacy items that might contains parts of endangered animals, among other things. 

A columnist in yesterday’s The New York Times told us that the government has ordered restaurants not to serve dog, but there are probably no directives about wildlife on the menu. We admonish consumers not to eat snakes, turtles, and other small animals in certain recipes partly because the trade in these products is devastating wildlife populations at an alarming rate.

The focus on China is good, of course, but this is part of a much larger challenge. International tourism is a booming business, and  tens of billions of dollars are being spent on travel worldwide. By making intelligent and sensitive choices as a traveler, you can do just as much to benefit animals as if you were volunteering at an animal shelter, writing a letter to the editor, or speaking to your  member of Congress. We vote with our dollars every day for or against animal protection.

Every positive choice people take in destination countries contributes to the advancement of animal protection, raising awareness, supporting humanely operated ecotourism enterprises and humane-minded restaurateurs, and strengthening respect for local and regional statutes designed to safeguard animals.

Consumer power is an especially potent force in developing nations where the legal and law enforcement frameworks for protecting animals are weak or lacking in capacity. Building a humane economy is an ambitious and dynamic enterprise, but it’s a goal we can all help achieve, purchase by purchase.

Humane Society International, Wildlife/Marine Mammals

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