Wildlife Tourism Campaign

£3,767 of £20,000 goal

Raised by 103 people in 15 months
WATCH HERE: Thailand's Wildlife Tourism Industry: An Introduction


Wildlife Tourism affects us all. At some point most of us will have visited a zoo, ridden on an elephant, been to an aquarium, or had a photo taken with an exotic animal. Yet what many don’t know is the cruelty that goes on – in front of our eyes and behind closed doors.

This project aims to lift the lid on abuse in the Wildlife Tourism Industry through:

1.     Photographic and film exposés
2.     A new global platform to report cruelty: Raise the Red Flag

The industry

Worldwide, more than half a million animals are suffering for our entertainment. Many have been stolen from their families in the wild to lead a life in captivity. Here they are often kept in unsuitable habitats, or otherwise dressed up, humiliated and forced to perform on a daily basis.

During training, many of the animals will have been subjected to beatings, burned with cigarettes or electrocuted to make them completely submissive to their handlers. Many elephants, for instance, will have been through ‘The Crush’ as juveniles - a form of torture to break their spirit. This has to stop.

The Project

Over the past year, I have visited some of the planet’s cruellest operators and worst zoos, documenting my findings. I’ve seen orang-utans forced into boxing shows, macaques made to ride bikes or perform tricks, tiger cubs used as photo props, a gorilla living in a filthy cell at the top of a shopping mall and much, much more.

My imagery has received a large amount of press coverage and has been featured on BBC World News, and in the Sun, Mirror, Metro, Huffington Post , Dodo  and more. Now, millions more people are aware of cruelty for Wildlife Tourism. Whist it’s been a great start, I want to continue this mission and expand the reach of this project.

Why I need funding

I have been very lucky to receive funding from individuals all over the world, who have helped to cover the substantial costs I incur on assignment. For a typical shoot I will fly somewhere, hire a car, pay for food, accommodation and petrol, along with hard drives and entrance fees. I also like to bring a videographer along to capture footage. This all adds up. Your generous donations will help fund photography and film assignments, and media campaigns for this project.

The Platform

The second stage is launching and managing Raise the Red Flag: a new global platform so tourists can report cruel operators. Research has shown that platforms such as Trip Advisor don’t do enough to combat the abuse, with 8 out of 10 people leaving positive reviews for places that treat animals badly.

This new platform will allow visitors to upload a photo and report of what they have witnessed. This will then be verified by one of our team, before being loaded onto the system as a Red Flag. When an operator has received enough Red Flags, we will notify the relevant authorities.

Whilst the supremely talented and generous Steve Dean ( www.stevendean.com.au) has designed and built the platform pro bono, your donations will also go towards the on going costs such as running, monitoring and marketing RRF.

My background

As an environmental photojournalist and filmmaker, I believe the media can create change and inspire others. I have spent the past decade behind - and in front of - the camera, working on stories of human-animal conflict. My work has been widely published and I'm fortunate to have won a few awards, including a category at this year's Wildlife Photographer of the Year award. 

Palm-Oil Survivors, winner photojournalist category, Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2017

Thank you for your support. I will keep you fully updated as this project progresses. Without you, none of this would be possible. Together, our voices are stronger. Together, we can stop the cycle of abuse.

Me, being thankful :-)

Learn more on www.aarongekoski.com 
View productions on www.scubazoo.tv
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Morocco's famous tree-climbing goats...all isn't quite as it seems.

I recently travelled to Morocco to investigate the country's Wildlife Tourism industry with Born Free Foundation.

Whilst there I found out that in some areas, farmers are putting the goats into trees and then charging tourists to take pictures with them. They have even erected small platforms for the goats to stand on - and the poor goats are in a terrible state.

It might not be the cruellest form of Wildlife Tourism out there, but at least people might think twice before taking that Instagram photo.

Here are some links to the press coverage - it really has done the rounds in the international media:








More stories coming soon. Thank you again for your​ support.
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Dear all,

We will start filming our documentary on orangutan tourism next week. Exciting times! I will keep you posted with progress​ but rest assured we have a fascinating, hard-hitting film on our hands.

Also, the Raise the Red Flag platform will be launching in July. Think of it as the Trip Advisor of Wildlife Tourism. It will be launched in partnership with a world-leading foundation who have the reach and knowledge to take the platform global.

In other news, I have just returned from Marrakech. Some of your recent donations helped to fund one particular investigation. See here for a hint. Story to be released soon.

Once again, thank you for your support.

+ Read More
Hi all

I wanted to update you with some very exciting news. Through additional private donations, we have now managed to raise enough funds to shoot our film on Wildlife Tourism!

The pilot episode will focus on orangutans; it will look at the abuses happening in various parts of the world, as well as highlighting those conservation heroes working to safeguard the orangutan's future.

Your generous donations will be put towards our production costs. We have a hugely talented team of film-makers working on this project, who will be dedicating their time, equipment and skills because they passionately believe in the film and our potential to make an impact.

We will commence shooting within the next couple of months. Apologies it's taken some time to get this off the ground. As you can imagine, it's not a small undertaking producing a broadcast documentary, and requires substantial resources and manpower.

I will keep you posted as the project develops.

Kind regards,

+ Read More
Indonesia's Travelling Dophin Circus - please read my latest investigation with Born Free Foundation, here:


And more coverage of elephants being stabbed on their trunks at Taman Safari: https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/7566765/elephant-keepers-stab-trunk-indonesia-tourists/

Thank you again for your donations which helps make these trips possible!
+ Read More
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Raised by 103 people in 15 months
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