Jenhung Huang / Getty Images
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A boy photographs rhinos on safari.
Jenhung Huang / Getty Images

Do this, not that

Raise a wildlife champion by considering these alternative animal experiences on your next vacation.

Take a long-range photo, not a selfie.
Getting close enough for an animal selfie is unsafe for both kids and the critter. Instead, use a zoom lens so you don’t invade the animal’s personal space, and avoid using a flash.

Protect an elephant, don’t ride one.
A wild elephant would never let a human climb on top unless it’s been forced to behave unnaturally for the benefit of people. For a better experience, look for animal sanctuaries that teach children how to care for elephants and other rescued animals.

Shop nice, not naughty.
Kids might think a shark’s tooth or exotic bird feather is a cool souvenir, but often these kinds of wild artifacts signal that an animal has been harmed. Steer them toward more wildlife-friendly reminders, like a stuffed animal or photo calendar.

Observe animals in the wild, not at a show.
Captive wild animals are often trained to allow caretakers to assist in their care. Experiences that show off this behavior can be educational for children—and that’s a good thing. But if animals are behaving in a way that is strictly for human enjoyment (like a dancing monkey), chances are that the animal has been taken from its natural environment unnecessarily. Observe these creatures in the wild or at a respected zoo or aquarium instead.

Take pictures, not stuff.
You know that kids should never disturb a wild animal—even one that seems harmless. But that goes for its habitat as well. Things like picking flowers and taking seashells could affect an animal’s food source or living space. And a photo isn’t going to end up in the bottom of a desk drawer.