Tourist Attraction Touting Conservation Actually Sells Animals For Meat

23/5/2017

The Cayman Islands are a tourist's paradise, with their stunning beaches and incredible wildlife.They are well-known for their sea turtles who pay a visit every year to lay their eggs.

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Source: WAP

Sadly, some companies have taken it upon themselves to profit off of the endangered species, by creating a tourist trap which can be misleading in its intentions.The Cayman Turtle Centre(CTC), once known as the Cayman Turtle Farm, lauds itself as an educational program that gives direct encounters with sea turtles, all while helping to defend them from extinction. But what they don't tell you, is that8.7% of their profits come from selling turtle meat.

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Source: WAP

One visitor explained in a review on their Facebook page:

The tour company we booked through to see your facility led us to believe that your facility was in place to raise and release turtles into the wild to aid in their dwindling/endangered population. Had I known that any of the turtles you raise were raised for meat purposes, I would not have given you one red cent, not set foot on your facility. When I found this out, it made my stomach churn.

Even though the percentage in their profits seems small, it still equates to 71,735 pounds of meat in 2016.CTC also tried to evade the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) regulations. David Godfrey, director of theSea Turtle Conservancy, toldThe Dodo:

A few years ago the farm was caught trying to sell and export a bunch of live green turtles to Europe for display in private, for-profit aquariums, which was a violation of CITES regulations. We called them on it and eventually halted the shipment … We also have vigorously opposed the farm’s multiple attempts over the years to revise CITES regulations in order to open the door for their export of turtle products.
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Source: WAP

In addition, the way the company started is concerning. Their population of turtles was collected after they took477,644 eggs from the wild between 1968 and 1978. This kind of harvesting is a contributing factor to their endangered classification.During their time at CTC, the animals are kept in overcrowded, concrete tanks where they are allowed to be manhandled by tourists. This is a stark contrast to their life in the wild where they have endless ocean to swim in.Neil D’Cruze, senior wildlife advisor at World Animal Protection (WAP), explained in a statement:

The stress and injuries associated with the repeated handling of these wild sea turtles by tourists is just the tip of the iceberg. Behind the scenes, hundreds of sea turtles are crammed into overcrowded shallow tanks out of sight from the tourist view.
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Source: WAP

CTC will argue that their organization has released 31,000 green sea turtles which have been bred on the farm in to the wild, but no data is available to how many actually survived.These released turtles can also pose a risk to others who were born and raised in the wild. The stress that they experience in captivity makes them more susceptible to diseases, which can then be spread to the wild population.

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Source: WAP

Just under 1,300 of them at the farm died from a bacterial infection in a three month period in 2014. D'Cruze toldThe Dodo:

By releasing captive-bred turtles into the wild, the CTC may be having a detrimental impact on wild turtle populations, as the release of captive animals carries the risk of transmitting diseases and genetic pollution, furthering species decline.

Unbeknownst to most tourists, a2015 Oxford study revealed the CTC to be among the cruelest wildlife attractions worldwide. Until more people know the truth and stop visiting these types of tourist traps, these cruel practices will go on.To help, you can sign this petition asking the CEO of TripAdvisor to remove the farm's "Certificate of Excellence." You can also check out this list of other harmful animal attractions to avoid.

H/t: The Dodo

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