Tips for staying safe around animals

Our holidays and adventures often bring us into contact with diverse wildlife and domestic animals, some of which could offer fantastic experiences. Whether it's encountering exotic creatures in their natural habitats or interacting with pets in foreign environments, it's essential to prioritise safety for both yourself and the animals involved. We see many different claims related to animal encounters, so it pays to be prepared for your next adventure!  

Here are some tips for staying safe around animals while travelling to popular destinations like Bali, Thailand, the USA, Europe, Vietnam, and other areas frequented by New Zealand travellers. 


Research beforehand

Whether it’s a safari, snorkelling trip or a monkey kingdom, before taking part in any animal-related activity, research the animals you may encounter in your destination. Understand their behaviours, habitats, and any potential risks associated with interacting with them. This knowledge will help you approach encounters with caution and respect. 

Respect wildlife

When checking out wild animals, keep a safe distance and avoid disturbing their natural behaviours. Refrain from feeding, touching, or attempting to take selfies with wild animals, as this could cause them stress and lead to dangerous situations for both you and the animal. Whether you're admiring elephants in Thailand or monkeys in Bali, keep a respectful distance to ensure everyone's safety. 


Monkeys in hot spring


Follow local regulations 

Respect local laws and guidelines regarding wildlife interaction in your destination. Many popular tourist spots, such as Thailand's elephant sanctuaries and Vietnam's wildlife reserves, have specific rules in place to protect both visitors and animals. Pay attention to signage and instructions from guides or park rangers to ensure compliance with local regulations. 


Use licensed, reputable tour operators

If participating in guided wildlife excursions, choose licensed operators with a strong commitment to animal welfare and conservation. Ensure they follow ethical practices, such as non-intrusive observation and minimal disruption to natural habitats. It can be tricky to work out if the company IS actually ethical, so try to read reviews from fellow travellers or look for endorsements of the company for peace of mind. Refrain from engaging with activities that exploit animals for entertainment such as performances or swimming with captive animals, as these can often involve mistreatment. 


Practice safe pet interactions

When interacting with domestic animals, such as stray dogs or cats, approach them cautiously and respectfully. Avoid sudden movements or behaviours that may provoke fear or aggression. If unsure, admire them from a distance without direct contact, whether you're exploring the streets of Bangkok, or the busy laneways of Bali.  


Street dogs


Be vigilant in rural areas

In rural or remote areas, be cautious around unfamiliar domesticated animals, such as farm animals or working animals like horses and donkeys. These animals may behave unpredictably, especially if they perceive a threat to themselves or their territory. Always approach with caution and respect, whether you're hiking through the wild west of the USA or the highlands of Scotland. 


Protect yourself from wildlife hazards

As part of your adventures, you may be embarking on trekking expeditions in various landscapes, like forests, national parks or deserts. In regions where wildlife poses potential hazards, such as venomous snakes or insects, take precautions to minimize risks. Wear appropriate clothing and footwear, use insect repellent, and stay on designated paths or trails.  


Seek medical attention if bitten or scratched

If the unfortunate occurs and you get an injury from an animal bite or scratch, seek medical attention promptly, especially in areas where rabies or other zoonotic diseases are prevalent. Follow any recommended treatment protocols and quickly get yourself to a hospital


Monkey with her baby


Whether you're exploring the rainforests of Thailand or the savannas of Africa, keep these tips in mind to ensure a safe and enjoyable travel experience for yourself and the animals you encounter as part of your next adventure.  

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