Europe’s Cruellest Destinations

Going on holiday and visiting popular tourist haunts is a blast for us, but some European destinations are dangerous for our friends in the animal kingdom. Animal prisons posing as fun-packed and educational attractions, such as zoos and aquaria, are regularly included in “Top 10 Holiday Destinations” lists, so we thought we’d compile our own list — Europe’s Cruellest Destinations!

On our list, you will find zoos, donkey rides, blood sports and more. These are “attractions” that enslave animals, use them in degrading circus acts and force them to work throughout the year while tourists watch on … and then move on.

Running of the Bulls

Pamplona, Spain

Every year, more than 40,000 bulls are killed in Spanish bullrings after they’re taunted, stabbed repeatedly and finally slaughtered by the matador (Spanish for “killer”). Even before the bull enters the ring, he is on the losing side of things. A study found that 20 per cent of bulls used for fighting are drugged before they step into the ring. The bulls are also debilitated in other ways, including having petroleum jelly rubbed in their eyes and being beaten with sandbags.

Adding to this is the notorious Running of the Bulls, in which bulls are chased through the streets of Pamplona. The corners of the route are sharp, and the animals often lose their footing and slide into walls, breaking bones and injuring themselves.

The alternative: See what fun things PETA is doing to help bulls at


Schwaben Park Chimpanzee Show

Baden-Württemberg, Germany

The chimpanzee show, or Schimpansen-Show, at Schwaben Park in southwest Germany is truly a house of horrors. Just one look at the chimpanzees performing demeaning tricks on leashes will tell you that these animals live a miserable existence. The shocking videos on the park’s website show chimpanzees riding ponies, performing “magic tricks”, driving motorbikes and answering telephones. Chimpanzees are highly intelligent, and young chimpanzees have even been known to outperform human college students in number-memory tasks.

Chimpanzees used for entertainment are taken from their mothers as infants, which permanently cripples their social and emotional development. Trainers often use beatings and shock collars to make these naturally curious and energetic apes perform tricks that are confusing to them.

The alternative: Visit a theme park that doesn’t use animals. Roller coasters are exhilarating enough on their own!


Horse-Drawn Carriages

Rome, Italy

Travel companies are offering “romantic” horse-drawn carriage rides through the streets of Rome, forcing horses to pull heavy weights amidst the poisonous exhaust fumes in “nose-to-tailpipe” conditions. Countless tragedies have occurred over the years as horses pulled newlyweds or tourists through busy cities. Anyone driving past a horse on a country lane knows the animals are easily spooked, so being constantly surrounded by honking cars, traffic jams and pedestrian-strewn streets is a recipe for disaster.

The alternative: Take the healthy option and walk the streets of Rome. Who knows what exciting attractions you might come across along the way?


Donkey Rides

Beaches All Over the UK

Soaking up the sun on the beach is heavenly for us, but for donkeys, it’s hell. Donkey-ride operators at beach resorts such as Bridlington and Blackpool force donkeys (who in some cases are chained together at all times) to live a miserable existence — and they do so simply to make money and give children a cheap thrill. Pacing the hot sand all day in the sweltering heat while children clamber on their backs amounts to forced labour for the poor animals.

The alternative: Watch a Punch and Judy show, swim in the sea and build sandcastles.


Berlin Zoo

Berlin, Germany

The Berlin Zoo has a reputation for flaunting its animals as entertainment without caring for their welfare. Knut the polar bear cub was famously paraded in front of the world’s media in 2006, bringing vast amounts of cash to the zoo.

More recently, director Bernhard Blaszkiewitz has been accused of slaughtering the zoo’s inmates and selling their body parts for Chinese medicine. In addition, the zoo’s curator admits, “When we have too many goats in the petting zoo, we usually give them to farms or private persons. But if we can’t get rid of them, we have them appropriately slaughtered and fed to carnivores”.

All zoos are morbid prisons for animals. Enclosures are small, natural needs are suppressed and “zoochosis” — abnormal, self-destructive behaviour such as pacing around, biting cage bars and head-bobbing — often results.

The alternative: Berlin is rich with historical importance. Visit its many museums, the Berlin Wall and beautiful gardens.


Edinburgh Zoo

Edinburgh, Scotland

In 2000, a number of endangered Arabian antelopes were bred and then destroyed by Edinburgh Zoo officials. More recently, following the news of an upcoming chimpanzee breeding scheme and enclosure at the zoo, PETA joined a coalition of organisations to mail the zoo a letter of protest. The benefits to conservation efforts of exhibiting captive chimpanzees are unproven, and reintroduction into the wild is not a viable option. This means these animals will be held prisoner in Scotland for the rest of their lives.

The alternative: While in Scotland, visit a loch, a castle or the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, or go deer-spotting.


Mediterraneo Marine Park

White Rocks, Malta

There are about 40 captive dolphin and whale exhibitions across Europe. Malta’s Mediterraneo Marine Park uses bottlenose dolphins in performances and has a “swimming with dolphins” programme, which has miserable consequences for these intelligent mammals.

Dolphins in this type of programme are captured in the wild or imported from conflict-ridden countries. They will never be able to swim in the vast oceans as their ancestors could, and they may become frightened when constantly surrounded by clambering tourists.

The alternative: Take a dolphin- and whale-spotting holiday that doesn’t involve their capture or handling.

Planning a Trip to the U.S.? If you are planning a trip to America, be sure to check out PETA US’ very own list of the deadliest destinations.