A Global Review of Animal-Visitor Interactions in Modern Zoos and Aquariums and Their Implications for Wild Animal Welfare

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Year of Publication:
Neil D'Cruze, Sophie Khan, Gemma Carder, David Megson, Emma Coulthard, John Norrey, Georgina Groves
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We provide an initial insight into the occurrence and characteristics of animal-visitor
interactions (AVIs) involving captive wild animals within zoos and aquaria. Using information
provided online via official public websites of modern zoos and aquaria, we found that AVIs were
provided by the majority of facilities. Our study revealed that a variety of AVI types were being
offered. Globally, petting captive wild animals was the most prevalent AVI type advertised (n = 1241
observations, 43% (534) of facilities) and Mammalia was the most advertised taxonomic class (n = 5142;
53% (2739)). We found certain AVI types that were more commonly offered than predicted. These
were opportunities to: (1) Hand feed captive wild animals in Asia, North America and Oceania;
(2) ride wild animals in Europe and North America; (3) walk with or swim through wild animal
enclosures in Asia; and (4) walk with wild animals in Asia and Europe. Given the global prevalence
of AVIs in modern zoos and aquaria, and an apparent lack of animal welfare focused research, we
provide recommendations to help effectively balance and manage captive wild animal welfare with
other primary interconnected goals.


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