American travel website TripAdvisor has agreed to stop selling tickets to "cruel" animal attractions, in a move which has received praise from animal rights groups.
Along with its sister company Viator, the review site has said that tickets will no longer be on offer to "hundreds of animal attractions where tourists come into physical contact with captive wild animals or endangered species".
This dramatic move comes after an ongoing campaign from London-based animal welfare group World Animal Protection (WAP), which grabbed the attention of TripAdvisor.
The campaign focused on the fact that attractions involving animals have been linked to psychological and physical trauma which can reduce their lives. This can lead to more animals being taken from their natural habitats to feed the tourism industry.
The policy will come into effect in the New Year, but will have a number of exemptions. Notably, experiences with domesticated animals, and those which feature feeding programmes, as these are considered important for educational purposes.
TripAdvisor will allow businesses who feel they are being negatively impacted by the move to appeal their exclusion.
PETA Vice President Tracy Reiman is pleased with TripAdvisor's decision.
"By refusing to sell tickets to businesses that treat animals as entertainment or play things, TripAdvisor is making a precedent-setting statement about the use and abuse of animals for entertainment."
WAP, however, believe they could have taken it further by limiting sales to attractions such as SeaWorld, which often draws criticism for its treatment of wildlife.
"We hope it will only be a matter of time before TripAdvisor will also come to realise that it has to end sales to all cruel wildlife attractions such as SeaWorld where the animals endure a lifetime of abuse and highly stressful training to perform," said WAP chief executive Steve McIor.
All animal attractions, including those affected by the move, will still be available to be reviewed on TripAdvisor and will be linked to the education portal.