TripAdvisor removes listing for tour offering endangered species as dinner

31 May 2018

Pressure sees TripAdvisor stop profiting from endangered – and illegal – king cobra killing, but similar listings remain.

In early 2018, TripAdvisor was found to be selling tickets for tours to a horror facility in Vietnam specialising in serving meals and alcohol made from snakes, including king cobras which are a protected species in the country.

TripAdvisor sold tickets for tours to Le Mat Snake Village near the capital Hanoi, but have finally ended their association after more than 40,000 people signed a petition urging them to do more to stamp out animal cruelty on their site. 

The restaurant’s speciality involves cutting out the heart of a live snake which guests would then swallow while it continues to beat as part of a rice wine shot.

Close up snake is bled for shots

Not only has TripAdvisor stopped selling tickets for the tour, they have also completely removed the restaurant’s listing from the site – something they expressly told Animals Asia in a March meeting that they would not consider.

Animals Asia’s Animal Welfare Director Dave Neale said:

“TripAdvisor has finally done the right thing. No responsible travel company can in good conscience profit from this kind of tourism. But of perhaps even greater importance is TripAdvisor’s decision to completely remove the tour listing. This is what TripAdvisor must do to all listings which promote or involve cruelty to animals if they are to meet their ethical obligation to combat animal abuse.”

Animals Asia first alerted TripAdvisor to the tour in February 2018 and were assured in a meeting in March that action would be taken against the individual restaurant. However, at the time, the TripAdvisor representative refused to remove listings which harm animals from the platform, claiming such a move would go against the company’s ethos of “transparency”.

Yet despite removing the restaurant to which they sold tours, the TripAdvisor site continues to list other restaurants offering the exact same service.

The listing for the The Hung Snake Restaurant, also in Le Mat village near Hanoi, boasts a five-star rating from over 500 reviews.

A user review from March 2018 describes the restaurant as “MUST DO” when visiting Hanoi and boasts: “We chose the king cobra that was caught in the wild, gulped down the heart and sat down to a feast fit for a king.”

TripAdvisor also continues to sell tickets for a related food tour to the same area which could also involve the killing of king cobras.

Animals Asia contacted TripAdvisor for clarity on the situation but received no response.

King cobras are listed as Critically Endangered in the national Red Data Book for Vietnam, where it is a protected species. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists king cobras as “vulnerable” globally.

The species is declining across its range largely due to trade and habitat destruction.

If you believe TripAdvisor – the world’s largest travel website – has a duty to do more to stop their site being misused as a hub for animal cruelty, sign the petition today.