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Photo Friday: The Sad Side of Travel

In the last 20 years, there has been a 170% increase in global travel for Americans. While I’m glad that I and my fellow countrymen are getting more opportunities to experience other cultures, I’m also sad at the prevalence of people who capitalize on the tourism industry in a greedy way.

I never made it to Tijuana when it was in its heyday (if you can call it that). San Diegans would walk across the border (no passport needed) and drink like fish before returning home. I’ve heard tell of donkey shows (do NOT ask!!) and all kinds of seedy experiences that, frankly, I think the city is better off not branding itself by.

But this photo makes my heart hurt. At first glance, it’s a zebra, right? But look closer. It is, in fact, a donkey painted to look like a zebra.

WTF?! What purpose could there be to abuse an animal and make him a “horse of a different color” (literally) other than to appeal to dumb tourists who think it’s fun to sit on this sad creature and get their photos taken?

Please, please when you travel, don’t be one of those tourists, particularly when it comes at an animal’s expense. Trust that the dejected horses that lead tourists around the French Quarter would rather be in a pasture. The elephant you can pay to ride in Sri Lanka probably is being starved. If you want to include animals in your travels, look for a sanctuary or rescue facility where you can volunteer or get involved.

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