Preprint Review Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

From Zoo to Social Media: The Evolution of Human-Captive Wildlife Relations

Version 1 : Received: 17 February 2021 / Approved: 18 February 2021 / Online: 18 February 2021 (12:13:24 CET)

How to cite: Lenzi, C.; Speiran, S.; Grasso, C. From Zoo to Social Media: The Evolution of Human-Captive Wildlife Relations. Preprints 2021, 2021020416 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202102.0416.v1). Lenzi, C.; Speiran, S.; Grasso, C. From Zoo to Social Media: The Evolution of Human-Captive Wildlife Relations. Preprints 2021, 2021020416 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202102.0416.v1).

Abstract

In the twenty-first century– an era of increasing domestic and international tourism- there are boundless opportunities to encounter wild animals both in their home countries and ex situ in zoological facilities around the world. Tourism activity– especially at accredited zoos and sanctuaries –plays a crucial role in the conservation of wild animal populations, and influences the welfare of individuals within involved species. Unfortunately, not all zoos and sanctuaries prioritize the conservation and welfare of their animals, such as those who promote irresponsible and mutually-harmful visitor-animal encounters for economic profit. While the relationship between visitors and animals at zoological facilities has shifted over time to match evolving morals and sentiments towards animals, there is still a storied tendency of visitors preferring close encounters with charismatic wild species. Since the 1970s, researchers’ attention has increasingly focused on assessing the influence of the visitor effect, which refers to the impact that viewing, touching, feeding, holding, and riding captive wildlife has on the animals. Many wildlife attractions promote such encounters, despite research suggesting that close interactions with visitors can cause stress and harm to involved species. Such activities are further promoted through the “selfie tourism” phenomenon, in which visitors capture images of themselves in too-close proximity to wild animals to be shared on social media. In this commentary, we consider the challenge of “selfie tourism”, and how it can promote unethical relationships between humans and wildlife and lead to deleterious implications for the animals’ conservation and welfare.

Supplementary and Associated Material

https://www.eticoscienza.it/: ETICOSCIENZA Association

Subject Areas

zoo animals; visitor attitudes; wildlife encounters; wildlife tourism; selfie

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