5 things to do in Bali to say ‘No’ to
I’ve written several posts singing the abundant praises of Bali, including the best things to do in Bali and 10 reasons we moved to Bali with kids. Today I’m highlighting the things to do in Bali that should be avoided- the ones that exploit animals. We are always going to aim for 100% honesty on our blog and social media channels, and this is one of the reasons that I wanted to do write this list. There is no Eden, no ultimate paradise- there are beautiful places with beautiful people, but in any place where there are humans there will be exploitation and I want to highlight that the oh-so-cute things you see online and the amazing places are imperfect and often questionable. That said, here’s our list of top 5 things to do in Bali that need to be avoided:
Visit Bali Zoo
It’s a zoo. I don’t think there is enough information made public about zoos, but they are not primarily set up for the animals’ wellbeing and conservation, and finances are generally prioritised over the animals. When you consider the abundant spaces that animals have access to in the wild, and the freedom to source food by themselves, when they want, it does not seem fair to keep them in cages. Animals have a desire for privacy just like humans do- think about cats when they are about to give birth, or dogs when they near the end of their life- they go off and find a quiet space somewhere, by themselves. Zoos often create spaces for the animals that ensure that visitors can always see them (else they wouldn’t make money), leaving the animals devoid of privacy.
Have breakfast with the orang-utans
This trip at first glance looks like it might be at some kind of sanctuary but in reality you will be eating breakfast in the orang-utan cage at Bali Zoo. I used to think that getting up close with non-domesticated animals like this was cool and that it in some way enhanced the bond between humans and animals. Then I realised that if you have to put someone in a cage in order to get them to have a meal with you, they probably don’t really want to socialise with you very much.
Visit monkey forest
This attraction has changed the primates’ natural behaviour to something almost unrecognisable from monkeys in the wild. They grab visitors’ belongings, desperate for food, and have got super smart to how valuable phones and cameras are. Now people have had their tech nicked and held to ransom until they’re given a banana. Did you know that too many bananas is bad for monkeys? There have been cases of diabetes in captive monkeys because people don’t realise their main diet should be green leaves. If you don’t care about the monkeys, you might care about getting bitten by one (happens ALL the time) and potentially getting rabies. The best outcome of a bite is a nasty wound and three anti-rabies injections; the worst is death. Worth it for a selfie?
*claps hands onto side of face* ‘NOOOOOOOOOOO!’
Repeat after me: “sitting on people is not kind”. Now replace “people” with elephants and we are one step closer to understanding why elephant parks are a terrible idea. Sure, they might have been rescued from awful lives in circuses. No, that doesn’t mean we should be sitting on them, getting them to pose for photos or manipulating their natural behaviour- especially not with the threat of violence from a huge metal hook (standard practice). Click here to read about our day with elephants in Thailand- there was no riding involved but it still left me feeling uneasy.
Visit kopi luwak farms
I can’t count the number of times since we arrived in Bali one week ago that we’ve been told about the happy wild luwak (civet cats) that roam wild in the island forests, eating coffee cherries and pooping out the stones. The farmers, we have been told, scour the forest floor for the poop, taking out the beans and roasting them to make Kopi Luwak, the most expensive coffee in the world.
The only poop I smell is the complete BS of these stories. I’m not saying that there’s nowhere left like that, but most farmers lock up Luwaks in tiny cages, force them to breed and collect their faeces to make this coffee. Fancy a nice cup of Balinese-grown Arabica? Or how about a cruelly-sourced cap-POO-cino?
Tough choices again people, tough choices.
I’m sure there are other attractions in Bali that need to be avoided; if I find more obviously unethical attractions I’ll write more posts, as well as a gazillion more on the awesome things to do in BalI!
This isn’t a killjoy post- one of the most vibrant points that I want to communicate is that Bali is SO BEAUTIFUL and such a wonderful island, rich in history and culture and art and nature and fun that there is absolutely no need to go and fund these cruel attractions.
You can have the time of your life diving into waterfalls, hiking rice terraces, exploring colourful markets, taking a Balinese dance or cookery class, snorkelling in stunning coral, sunbathing on paradise beaches… and still see plenty of incredible animals along the way.
Around our apartment we have geckos, monitor lizards, HUGE butterflies and some cheeky frogs
and also cockroaches and ants and centipedes. There are dogs and cats everywhere and wonderful sanctuaries to visit. Villa Kitty has 150 rescued cats and kittens, and loves welcoming visitors to play with the residents. BARC4Bali is a dog sanctuary that also offers tours of its adoption centre; there are so many things to do in Bali where visitors can interact with animals without harming one being in the process- and even helping!
If you are visiting Bali and would like to spend the day with animals, please visit the cats at Villa Kitty or the dogs at Barc 4 Bali. You can also foster puppies and dogs who are waiting for their forever home. These are charities that need the help and support of tourists and always put the animals’ wellbeing first.
Villa Kitty, as well as hosting visitors to meet and interact with the cats from Wednesday- Sunday (10am-4pm) also hosts a vegan lunch under their mango tree each Sunday. Click here for their website and here to see what happened when we found a tiny kitten on the streets of Sanur!
For our favourite super fun, family friendly and ethical things to do in Bali, click here!