WAZA Animal-Visitor Interaction Guidelines

In recent years, zoos and aquariums have seen a rapid growth in interactive experiences that bring humans and animals into close proximity and which have an important role in supporting many zoo’s and aquarium’s conservation, research and education goals. From walk-through, swim-through or drive-through experiences to direct animal contact, such as touch pools, hands-on education animals or petting areas/touch paddocks, the interactive experiences are varied and relevant to support and enhance pro-conservation behaviours and conservation education goals amongst the visitors.

Although such animal-visitor interactions (AVIs) are popular, the effect of visitor presence or direct contact on an animal’s well-being must also be considered, as providing mechanisms to give the best possible chance for positive animal welfare at all times is of paramount importance.

The WAZA Animal-Visitor Interaction Guidelines are based on the scientific recommendations provided in the World Zoo and Aquarium Animal Welfare Strategy, and aim to provide guidance on promoting animal-visitor interactions that prioritise positive animal welfare for the animal individuals that participate in them.

The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) is the global alliance of regional associations, national federations, zoos and aquariums, dedicated to the care and conservation of animals and their habitats around the world.

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