A Protocol for the Ethical Assessment of Wild Animal-Visitor Interactions (AVIP) Evaluating Animal Welfare, Education, and Conservation Outcomes

Authors: Barbara De Mori, Linda Ferrante, Daniela Florio, Elisabetta Macchi
Published: researchgate.com, July 2019


Due to the popularity of wild animal−visitor interactions (AVIs), there is a need for an ethical assessment of their impact on animal welfare, education, and conservation. The protocol presented in this study is designed to evaluate such interactions on an integrated level, using a transparent analysis of all the aspects involved, including all the stakeholders and the potential conflicts of values. The protocol consists of a six-step process encompassing dedicated data acquisition and a specific ethical assessment. When the protocol was applied to assess a “giraffe feeding” interaction, steps devoted to data acquisition found that animal welfare risks were low, and that visitors described giraffes with emotionally linked descriptors more often after the interaction. The net promoter score, which refers to how likely visitors would recommend to a friend to join the animal−visitor interaction, was 74%. The subsequent ethical assessment, which consisted of a comparison of the results of the previous steps with an ethical matrix highlighting the ideal situation for all stakeholders’ interests, allowed the overall identification of the ethical concerns entailed by the interaction. A final ethical checklist of the examined AVI had a “yes” in entries regarding animal welfare, emotional, and conservation mindedness outcomes and ethical assessment.

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