Travel website Airbnb launched their new Animal Experiences program at the beginning of the month, and it’s a big step in the right direction away from animal exploitation in the tourism industry. This recent addition of 1,000 opportunities in 58 countries focuses on humane and educational experiences that celebrate wildlife instead of harming it.
Airbnb worked closely with World Animal Protection to create a set of requirements for animal guardians, nonprofits and others who want to add an experience to Airbnb’s roster, helping ensure that animals are respected and protected during the excursions. The policies ban direct interaction with wild animal life unless for conservation or rescue purposes, as well as any experience with captive marine mammals like dolphins and whales. “Sports” like dog racing or running with bulls are prohibited, too.
As more and more cruelty is exposed in the animal tourism industry — from elephants chained, whipped and forced to give tourist rides to baby tigers stolen from their families and held captive for selfies — Airbnb is the latest among a number of travel-related companies to promote humane animal interactions and shun animal abuse. Trip Advisor, for example, recently stopped selling SeaWorld tickets, and stopped selling tickets for trips involving wildlife-touching in 2017.
Over 100 of the Airbnb experiences will be earmarked as Social Impact Experiences, programs from which the company donates all the proceeds to nonprofits.
Many travelers want to interact with and learn about local animals and nature while on vacation, but don’t always know which options are humane. All animals are deserving of respect and care, and we applaud Airbnb’s new program for promoting compassion toward animals and steering tourists toward ethical attractions and away from animal abuse.