08/21/06 Cruelty as Tourist Attraction

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Animal Friends comments Croatian tourist attractions

Animal Friends noteg again, this summer, many complaints of international and national tourist who were appalled by the neglect of animals, cruel customs and lack of vegetarian restaurants and vegetarian food in general.

The "care" for companion animals in Croatia often horrifies international tourists. This horror cannot always be compensated for by the natural beauty of our country. Evident deficiencies in ethical culture, lack of animal shelters or organized care for abandoned animals often disappoint and shock them. Organized care for abandoned animals, animal shelters and sterilization/neutering programs are quite unknown to Croatian authorities, and if a tourist reports animal abuse, responsible authorities will simply disregard it.

Bans on dogs traveling by public transportation, as well as bans on dogs visiting most hotels, restaurants, stores and cafes, become a problem for tourists who are not accustomed to such restrictions in the countries where they are coming from, which shows that we are not ready for tourists who do not want to leave members of their families at home.

A tiger cub abused during night club promotion, a snake locked inside of dance floor, and ruinous zoos which should be closed are just few highlights of Croatian "cruel tourist attractions."

It is a shame that in some areas close to tourist agencies we can often hear positive words about hunting. However, not caring about how unethical hunting is and merely thinking of profit, the hunting tourism is only further promoted and developed as an economic agency which contributes to the atmosphere of tolerating cruelty and anarchy of the Croatian hunting lobby.

Perplexed international tourists observe donkey maltreatment presented as tourist attractions. Donkey riding and donkey races are not attractive to most tourists – something that is presented as tourist attraction, tourists report as animal abuse because the tortured donkeys are often left with no food or water.

Tourists also report scenes of overloaded trucks full of exhausted sheep which wait hours-long for a ferry ride to the islands, but their complaints are totally disregarded by locals and the police. It is understandable that the tourists wonder what kind of law enables such treatment of the animals, whether we even have any laws at all, and what about the police and inspections which are paid to prevent and punish such cases of almost daily cruelty to animals.

And what about vegetarian food? There is no such thing! Even though in Germany alone the number of vegetarians is larger than the population of Croatia, and considering the new trends of healthy diet based on fruits and vegetables, Croatia still offers just plain old animal body parts, occasionaly decorated with a few pieces of vegetables.

Vegetarian tourists, as well as everybody else who wants to eat something besides a marine or farm animal, will face great problems. When someone mentions the words "vegetarian" or "vegan," "vegetarian pate" or "soy milk," it is evident that the restaurant staff is uneducated, not ready or, even more important, not willing to offer some acceptable vegetarian meal.

It's about time for us to realize that as a tourism oriented country we have to strive for development of ethical consciousness of Croatian citizens, for legislative change, for better education and better tourist amenities and attractions to avoid the so often accurate opinion of international tourists that Croatia is a land of cruelty.

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