Yucatán’s culture, history, and nature are some of the most important reasons why so many people are visiting our state and even deciding to reside here, making Mérida one of the most important development hubs in southeast México.
Precisely where those three aspects meet lies a topic that’s very close to our hearts here in Yucatán Today: contributing to a local culture that respects nature in every way; that includes treating animals like living beings, entitled to a good life.
Happy animals in Yucatán
What does it mean for an animal to have a good life? Above all things, freedom and quality of life. At Yucatán Today we firmly oppose having animals tied up, chained, or kept in cages, especially when it comes to wild (that is, non-domesticated) species. Our state is home to hundreds of species of birds, for example; if you love to hear them sing, all you have to do is visit a park, even within Mérida. Birds are meant to fly; having one at home, and even worse, keeping them in cages, is, in our opinion, a cruel sentence to life in prison. To make matters worse, keeping birds at home is a practice that encourages illegal hunting and poaching; have you ever thought about how many birds die for each one that poachers get their hands on?
Wild species in captivity
Many people justify owning birds, from cardinals to parrots, toucans, or macaws, telling themselves (and others) that they bought them because they were already in captivity; who could have given them a better life? This argument is also applied to dozens of other mammals and reptiles like ocelots or iguanas. However, every animal that is sold proves to those who caught it that there’s someone willing to buy the next one, whether out of ignorance or pity. We encourage you never to take part in these practices, for any reason. Never pay for a wild animal; if you’re given one for any reason, contact one of the several organizations dedicated to rehabilitating and returning them to their natural habitat.
For this same reason, at Yucatán Today we don’t promote any of the zoos in the state. We understand that these aim to be places for the observation, study, and conservation of some species; we also understand that Yucatán boasts extraordinary veterinary professionals who are in charge of their care. However, the debate on whether it’s ethical to take these species out of their habitats to keep them in reduced spaces, in a place as hot as Yucatán, doesn’t seem to be anywhere near its end even among our team itself. As such, we’ve opted not to feature them in any of our channels.
Calesas, or horse-drawn buggies
Calesas or horse-drawn buggies have been an attraction in Mérida for decades. Yucatán Today’s founders even attended their own wedding in a horse-drawn buggy in 1974. As the years passed by, we started to receive letters from readers who were appalled at the horses’ situation: forced to stand still for hours waiting for their next ride, on the pavement, under the scorching Yucatán sun, unable to access water at will… We understand that Ayuntamiento de Mérida (the Mérida Mayor’s Office) keeps a close eye on the horses’ work and life conditions, and that it even makes sure they’re properly taken care of through the Autonomous University of Yucatán’s School of Veterinary Medicine. However, we believe that, as it happens with zoos, these carriages don’t need to appear on our pages, as we can’t promote them with a clear conscience.
In 2022, Ayuntamiento de Mérida launched new electric horseless carriages to take tourists around the heart of the city as an environmentally friendlier alternative. Besides promoting sustainable tourism around the city, it also helps reduce the horses working hours until they can retire.
Photoshoots with wild animals
All over the Yucatán Península you’ll come across opportunities to take pictures with non-domesticated animals: macaws, snakes, crocodiles, wild cats, and dolphins are just a few examples. Even if we pretended these animals don’t have to be “prepped” to be out in public (clipped wings, claws and teeth filed or removed), we know that these animals are not used to human contact. Being in crowded places, being touched, being exposed to loud music and noise, etc., must be stressful (not to say terrifying) experiences that are just plain unnatural for them.
Bullfighting (on foot or horseback), Mexican rodeos, and other similar activities are widespread in Yucatán. For the reasons explained above, you may not be surprised to learn you’ll never read about them on any of our channels.
On the other hand, our state is home to several shelters for hurt or lost animals, where “patients” may be visible at a distance that’s healthy for them; those you will absolutely find featured every now and then. We’re also always happy to tell you about options to enjoy nature respectfully, through activities such as birdwatching. When it comes to fishing (whether recreational or as a sport), we believe that, if it is practiced responsibly (fishing what you’re going to consume and releasing what you aren’t) is a good activity that you can practice all along the Yucatán coast.
No matter which activities you prefer, we encourage you to always be respectful of our environment. Traveling and appreciating Yucatán’s natural environment is something we will always passionately promote. We love sharing the beauty of our state, and hope to continue to do so with our children and grandchildren!
Have you come across a wild animal that needs rescuing? Here are some organizations that might be able to help:
Photography by Juan Manuel Mier y Terán, Arturo Sánchez, H. Ayuntamiento de Mérida, and Yucatán Today for use in Yucatán Today.
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