By Nicola O'Brien, Campaigns Director

How can using animals in a theme park ride, be about anything but entertainment?  

A new ride has opened at Chessington World of Adventures called 'Tiger Rock' a log flume that features live wild animals. In video footage of the ride, the carriage holding visitors is seen to pass by a series of large glass windows looking in on the tiger. Overhead walkways for the tigers go over the log flume path.

Named ‘Land of the Tiger’ the ride is part of a themed area of the park which includes the tiger enclosures, which house four endangered Amur tigers who have been brought to the park for the opening.

The theme park boasts that it has brought in these tigers to ‘[support] endangered tiger conservation efforts’. But how does this ride support the crucial conservation work these tigers need, to protect them in the wild? How does this encourage people to learn about these tigers in any meaningful way?

The guise of conservation is once again used as an excuse for reducing animals to spectacles for public entertainment.

A screenshot of the Tiger Land ride at Chessington World of Adventures

A screenshot of the 'Tiger Rock' ride at Chessington.
How is this anything other than exploitation of tigers? 

Zoos and aquariums use the buzzwords ‘education and conservation’ to excuse the fact they have wild animals in captivity. This is difficult to accept at the best of times when we see zoos using animals in paid-for ‘encounters’, when we see animals being made to perform shows in zoos and when we see so few animals in zoos are even endangered. But it is even harder to accept when a theme park, designed to thrill and entertain, is using these excuses.

We are seeing such fantastic progress in the campaign to end animal circuses, yet we just have to look at developments like this to see we are far from ending the exploitation of animals for entertainment. We are seeing zoos finding more and more ways to bring visitors closer to the animals and new ways to use the animals as gimmicks.  

We have revealed how animals are stressed when exposed to noise from after-hours events at zoos .

How can the noise of a theme park ride, with screaming visitors be any less stressful? 

The log flume is part of the 'Land of the Tiger' attraction which includes the tiger enclosures

The park is owned by global company Merlin Entertainments who run theme parks and zoos around the world. The company has come under fire from animal campaigners in recent years when Freedom for Animals investigated the Merlin-owned SEA LIFE aquariums in the UK. As well as highlighting animal welfare concerns and high mortality rates, the investigation exposed how one of Merlin's centres in Shanghai uses performing beluga whales in shows for the public. Once again we see Merlin using animals as objects for entertainment, this time in the UK.  

We really must strongly oppose these kinds of attractions if we truly want to protect animals and teach people to respect them. The use of animals in entertainment should be long behind us and I fear gimmicks like this as bringing it back.  

You can help to end this exploitation. Make a donation today to fund investigations and lobbying to change the lives of animals. 

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