Sustainable travel may mean different things to different people, but the basic premise is to travel in such a way that preserves natural and cultural environments.
Of course, a huge part of the 'natural environment' relates to animal conservation and protection.
I chose to focus on animal friendly travel because since this photo was taken, my attitude towards this sort of practice that's depicted, is changing.
The park where this practice (i.e. hugging and posing with koalas) continues to occur, means well, and they are very careful with the time spent with the koalas having to pose. You do start to realize though that it's just not the greatest option for any animal to have to endure.
This really came to light for me when I attended a fairly recent American Society of Travel Agents' (ASTA) conference and they had a charitable company attending virtually, called "World Animal Protection". They had some great videos about the plight of various animals around the world, such as this chained tiger, that are suffering and/or being exploited for entertainment purposes for travelers, in particular.
Many elephants go through a process called "the crush" to break their spirit. They are oftentimes, isolated, chained, beaten, and starved until they're submissive for tourists. This happens in various countries such as Thailand and others, where they're then ridden and bathed by people and you start to learn that it causes them more stress than they should have to deal with to entertain us.
Likewise with dolphins, the same sort of practice exists with their entertaining in front of people as well. Dolphins should be able to swim freely vs. being held in captivity with a limited amount of space to survive.
All wild animals deserve to be in their own habitat including elephants, leopards, lions, and such in Africa who can be seen when you're on a safari and dolphins freely swimming in the ocean in special places like Monkey Mia and Bunbury in Western Australia as examples. Don't you agree?
Are you prepared to be an animal friendly traveler in the future?