Animal-visitor interactions in semi-contrived tourism settings: A study of ‘Meet & Greets’ in UK zoos

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Abstract

Animal-visitor interactions are common in captive-wildlife tourism settings, but there is a lack of research exploring what is on offer. This study defines and examines ‘Meet & Greet’ animal experiences in UK zoos within the context of the wider wildlife tourism industry, considering the differences between semi-contrived and fully-contrived interactions. From analysing the websites of members of the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the results show that Meet & Greets are frequently offered by zoos in the UK, but that these zoos do not always explicitly describe what the interaction involves. We propose that there is a need for more research on Meet & Greets, particularly looking at how zoos advertise these experiences and how they are perceived by potential participants, as there is a danger that accredited zoos could inadvertently be promoting the exploitation of animals for photo prop opportunities in other tourist settings.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
JournalTourism Recreation Research
Early online date3 Nov 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 Nov 2022

Keywords

  • zoos
  • captive-wildlife tourism
  • animal-visitor interactions
  • animal photo props
  • Meet & Greets

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