World Animal Protection
Formerly known as World Society for Protection of Animals, World Animal Protection was founded in 1981 when the World Federation for the Protection of Animals and International Society for the Protection of Animals merged together. WAP is a global organization having locations in 15 different countries.
Its stated mission is to protect animals in the wild, in disasters, in communities, and in farming via a multilevel approach stretching from targeting local travel and tourist companies to developing partnerships with the International Red Cross and Red Crescent, National Governments, and the United Nations. That sounds nice on paper, but this agenda has manifested in a way detrimental to the public and animal appreciation.
Zoos and aquariums have inspired countless men, women, and children to care about animals. Seeing majestic creatures up close can form bonds and emotional attachment in a way that TV or Internet videos cannot. Yet WAP has attacked international animal attractions.
WAP has been a leading group pressuring TripAdvisor and other travel websites to stop selling tickets to attractions such as swimming with dolphins. (This comes despite scientific evidence showing that dolphins enjoy human contact.) WAP claims these attractions are cruel to animals, but ironically, traveler reviews of many attractions show that people who have seen the animals up close have a high opinion of these attractions. Unlike animals in the wild, which are at nature’s mercy, animals in human care can have all of their welfare needs met in a safe environment.
The organization has targeted dolphin shows and the USDA for not regulating them. WAP has often targeted organizations like SeaWorld—who provide animal welfare and rehabilitation—in their blog posts and lobbying. Their overall view on wild animals is a stance that is negative towards most zoos and aquariums finding them oppressive towards animals if not handles in a way that the WAP finds to be humane. On the plus side, WAP targets Pakistan and China for the countries’ involvement in collection of bear bile, bear dancing, and bear baiting. WAP’s Sea Change program, which dedicates itself to eliminating leftover fishing supplies in the ocean, pushes its end goal by pressuring organizations to use its criteria for collection and disposal.
In targeting communities, WAP uses policy to police developing governments and conform their methods for dealing with issues such as stray dogs and work animals to a system it approves of. Very little of the work WAP does involves hands on implementation past an initial introduction of how to implement its program. The same is similar of WAP’s operation in the West Bank, where it relies on a local partner to distribute WAP’s message.
WAP positions itself as an influencer, aiming most of its budget at redistributing its funds to partners, petition, and lobbying campaigns. Unlike other animal activist groups, WAP does not participate in trespassing on farms or actively pursue legal battles, choosing to advocate through pushing their policy on governments and corporations.
World Animal Protection has a number of poor reviews on Glassdoor. Reviews cite poor follow through on the central mission and little actual knowledge of animals from senior staff as notable issues. WAP’s overall rating was low until around March 2020, when it suddenly spiked.
CharityWatch, a respected nonprofit evaluator, issued a C-minus grade to WAP in 2019, finding that WAP spends as much as 45% of its budget on overhead. Such inefficiencies are common among animal activist organizations, which regularly are more about marketing a political or social movement for fundraising than providing hands-on care for needy animals.