South Africa is becoming more and more popular as a tourist destination and one of the most popular reasons for visiting is the spectacular wildlife. Along with the ‘Big Five’, South Africa is also home to an abundance of mammals, spectacular birdlife and our coasts are visited by dolphins, seals and migrating whales.
However, despite all this wildlife living free in our forests, plains, mountains and coasts there is a disturbing number of facilities offering tourists the opportunity to get ‘hands on’ with wild animals. One can pet lion, tiger and serval cubs, and walk with adult lions and cheetahs. Take a ride on the back of an elephant or even an ostrich, feed monkeys and lemurs or drape a large and dangerous snake around your neck. The list appears to get longer each year with more wild animals being added to the list of those you can ‘cuddle’.
One cannot deny that any interaction with an animal, especially a wild one is an exhilarating experience leaving us feeling quite…special. But is it really ‘special’?