Keep cruelty out of your vacation itinerary … and a 🎵

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Blast from the past: Rose’s fifth grade class on a Woo field trip with class teacher JOHN MONFREDO, in back. John began his teaching career at Green Island’s Lamartine Street School. These days, after a long, stellar career as a teacher and principal in the WPS, he serves on the Worcester School Committee.😉. pic: R.T.

By Alexandria Frandina-Brown

One of life’s greatest pleasures is stepping out of our daily routines and exploring new places. But if your family is planning a vacation, remember that one way to avoid bringing home awful memories is by seeking out excursions that are in keeping with compassionate values and staying away from cruel tourist traps that exploit animals. Vacationers who buy tickets to marine theme parks, roadside zoos or other facilities that profit from confining animals to cages and tanks keep these outfits in business. There are so many wonderful—and ethical—destinations awaiting you instead.

Florida’s John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is the first undersea park created in the United States. Along with the adjacent Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, the park encompasses 178 nautical square miles of coral reefs, seagrass beds and mangrove swamps. It protects and preserves the only living coral reef in the continental U.S. You can swim, kayak and paddleboard, and there are also snorkeling and scuba diving tours that are reasonably priced and allow you to go right into the water with the animals—into their homes, but on their terms. Compare and contrast the open ocean with the cramped and barren tanks at places like SeaWorld and “swim-with-dolphins” excursions. Ethical travelers will shun any business that forces captive animals to perform.

On the West Coast of the U.S., The Marine Mammal Center at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge is the largest marine mammal hospital in the world, responsible for rescuing stranded seals, sea lions, otters and cetaceans along 600 miles of the California coast. Its educational displays are truly inspiring, and from a safe distance, visitors can observe the animals who are being rehabilitated. The center is near a beautiful beach and just across the bay from San Francisco’s Pier 39, where sea lions regularly sunbathe and socialize.

Sanctuaries accredited by Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS) ensure that animals who have been abandoned, displaced or injured receive care that meets the highest standards during rescue and rehabilitation as well as for the rest of their lives. With locations around the world, GFAS sanctuaries provide safe harbor for thousands of animals. Not all GFAS sanctuaries are open to the public, though, and others offer only limited visitation in order to avoid causing the animals unnecessary stress. Check the facilities’ policies before you go, and keep in mind that no legitimate exotic-animal sanctuary allows any kind of “hands-on” interaction, including taking selfies with animals.

For those hearing the call of Asia, VegVoyages offers “off-the-beaten-track” tours that focus on cultural immersion, local interaction and lots of great vegan food. The agency’s underlying mission is to offer cruelty-free travel experiences in which no living being (human or animal) is exploited in any way.

Cruises today have a wide variety of options designed for ethical travelers. Oceania Cruises’ vegan menus feature more than 250 innovative dishes on all six of its ships. Vegan River Cruises gives guests a vegan-food-only experience on luxury small ships that sail down some of Europe’s most beautiful rivers. Regent Seven Seas Cruises offers a completely vegan menu for all its meals.

If you prefer a staycation, you can download your adventure from vEcotourism.org, which uses interactive online tours to connect people with conservation projects and local communities in ecologically and culturally sensitive areas around the world. Participants can enjoy watching elephants on Uganda’s Mount Elgon or Sumatra’s endangered orangutans for a fraction of the cost of a typical excursion and from the comfort of an easy chair.

Vacations are no reason to leave your ethics behind. Enjoy the many splendors that the world has to offer, but don’t spend any time at places where animals will languish in misery long after you’re back home.

🎵🐱🍦🎵🔆💙

Go, Go Gos!😉😊