Vol 8, Issue 4, November 2021

Animal-Visitor Interactions: Effects, Experiences, and Welfare


Fernandez, E.J., & Chiew, S.J. (2021). Animal-Visitor interactions: Effects, experiences, and welfare. Animal Behavior and Cognition, 8(4), 462-467. https://doi.org/10.26451/abc.



Animal-Visitor Interactions (AVI) within zoos and aquariums have become an increasingly studied topic. Influenced by both the broader field of Human-Animal Interactions (HAI), as well as visitor studies conducted in museums, AVI studies can be separated into two areas of focus: (1) Visitor effects, or the impact visitors have on the animals housed within a zoo, and (2) visitor experiences, or the impact zoo animals and visiting a zoo have on the visitors. Historically, visitor effects have been of primary concern to the study of AVIs, as have the potential negative impacts on the welfare of animals, particularly those of zoo primates. This special issue examines the impact of AVIs in greater detail through twelve recent papers on the topic, equally addressing visitor effects and experiences. Many of the papers focus on positive welfare indices, as well as less traditional measures to examine both visitor effects and experiences, such as visitor proximity and visitor interviews. In addition, we discuss the relevance of future AVI work, with particular attention to (a) increased interest in visitor experience research, (b) examinations of signage effects, and (c) continued focus on positive welfare indices and direct interactions, such as public feedings.


animal welfare; animal-visitor interactions; human-animal interactions; visitor effects; visitor experiences; visitor studies