Tourism is a good thing for many places in the world, but is also causes problems, one of them being animal stress. It turns out that those animals we are queuing up to see are not having such a good time.
When you look at an animal in its own habitat, it does not seem to look stressed. Animal stress almost sounds laughable, yet in many tourist areas, it’s a real thing, where rising cortisone levels cause a failure to thrive amongst animal populations.
Animal stress causes a change in their behaviour and that is very often brought about by the impact of tourism. It’s hard to see animals in the wild, they don’t exactly hang around waiting for us, so in order to keep the flow of tourists happy, they are attracted towards people with food. This means that their behaviour changes. Studies have shown that a change in natural behaviour can lead to increased animal stress and even more agression towards each other. A failure to eat or to mate have also been noted.
It is within the natural instinct of most animals to avoid humans. They tend to bolt when one approaches, yet for tourism operators that does not keep visitors happy. When animals are put in a position where they must be exposed to tourists they seemingly get used to it, yet inside they really are not. The stress hormones remain high and this has been shown to result in animals not caring properly for their young, having lower success with reproduction and even impacted body functions. They move around a lot more when stressed, often too much and don’t rest or feed properly as a result.
Aside from the stress of being put in an artificial situation, the animals suffer as their living environment is affected too. All those tourist feet trampling or sailing through their habitat does not help. There are many good reasons why animals stay away from us in the first place, it’s time we stopped forcing them into situations they are not comfortable with and let them live free lives, just as we do.