Tourism, animals, and the scales of justice
Animals are used in tourism in many ways. Some uses are more benign
such as ecotourism (e.g., viewing elephants in natural settings), while
others induce significant levels of suffering, pain and distress with the
denial of dignity and respect (e.g., elephants performing at a circus).
What is missing is a comprehensive overview of how just these uses
may or may not be. Justice, as a concept, is complex and controversial—even more so when applied to animals. In this paper, we propose
a “scales of justice” framework for animals used in tourism (deep, intermediate, shallow, and no justice) based on two different normative ethics models. The first model is based on the conventional normative
ethical domain that includes deontology and consequentialism (i.e.,
what we are told to do), while the second model is rooted in virtue ethics (i.e., what we ought to do as individuals). The intent is to “weigh”
the just and unjust use of animals in the tourism industry based on
these contrasting theoretical perspectives. Elephants are used as an
example through the paper. We view this approach as a springboard
for more intensive investigations on how animals are used in tourism in
a variety of contexts.