Expedia Group wildlife guidelines
We follow the guidance of experts who have spent their lives researching, observing, and helping animals. These individuals are most qualified to evaluate the welfare of animals since they care for them and understand the quality of the facilities that house them. With the help of these experts and our partner organizations, we have adopted the following principles for animal welfare:
Nutrition – Animals will enjoy a suitable, species-appropriate diet that promotes their physical and behavioral health and strength.
Environment – Animals will have appropriate environments that promote their ongoing comfort and safety.
Health – Animals will be maintained in good physical health and have access to a wellness program. They will be rapidly diagnosed and treated for injuries or disease to make sure they stay robust and healthy throughout their entire life.
Behavior – Animals will live in quality spaces and in suitable social groups that allow them to exhibit in their own natural ways a variety of species-appropriate behaviors.
Choice and control – Animals will be able to choose positive situations and choose not to suffer or become distressed.
Affective or mental states – Animals will live in conditions that maximize positive experiences and minimize negative survival-related experiences.
We adhere to the following principles, so our guests can have the best possible experience when participating in activities involving animals:
Safety – Activity operators must make sure guests are always safe.
Environment – Where experiences involve wild animals, operators will make sure guests maintain a safe distance from the animal(s), and that they receive a full briefing of the experience and actions to take in the event of an emergency.
Equipment – Operators will provide satisfactory safety equipment such as fences, rails, and specialist equipment when the activity requires it.
Health – Operators will not allow guests to interact with or have physical contact with sick, diseased, or disturbed animals. As well, guests will not be put in a position where they risk injury from or related to the animal.
Risk – Operators will not run an animal-related activity where guests face a risk of serious injury, risk of hospitalization, or specialized medical attention.
A policy is only as strong as the system that enforces it, and we have both automatic processes and manual interventions to do so.
When we add new inventory, we perform a quality check to make sure activities do not feature a prohibited action, facility, or interaction. We also regularly re-examine our entire catalog of products to verify that they do not feature any prohibited elements. Our team monitors reviews for potential animal-welfare concerns and health and safety issues and then takes appropriate action.
Any time we update our animal welfare policies, we give our providers 30 days to comply with the updated policy or face removal from the site.
Zoo and aquariums
We will only work with zoos and aquariums that are members of or are in the process of gaining accreditation from the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) or have membership and/or accreditation via one of their 24 regionally recognized associations around the globe.
Additionally, we work with accredited members of and facilities in the process of gaining accreditation from The Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums (AMMPA), an international association and accrediting body for marine parks, zoos, and aquariums.
This policy utilizes the Association of Zoos and Animals (AZA) definition of a zoo or aquarium:
“A permanent institution which owns and maintains wildlife, under the direction of a professional staff, provides its animals with appropriate care and exhibits them in an aesthetic manner to the public on a regular basis. The institution, division, or section shall further be defined as having as their primary mission the exhibition, conservation, and preservation of the earth’s fauna in an educational and scientific manner.”
Wild animals in natural or semi-natural habitats
We allow observational experiences that are run in accordance with the Expedia Group animal and guest welfare principles listed above. These experiences will not feature direct intentional contact, and operators will make sure there is enough space and opportunity for the animal to express choice for how it wishes to interact. Operators will make sure that the activities don’t interfere with the animal’s natural way of being or cause it distress.
Venues hosting wild animals
We will not sell activities of non-WAZA regionally and nationally recognized member and accredited venues that host activities utilizing wild animals for interaction, display, or entertainment. These include exotic pet cafes, restaurants, and traveling zoos.
We will abide by the Expedia Group animal and guest welfare principles where the primary focus of the activity is physical contact.
We will not allow intentional physical contact with wild and exotic animals, which include but are not limited to elephants, big cats, bears, reptiles, and primates.
We limit interactions to domesticated animals. These include, but are not limited to equine and bovine mammals, dogs, and cats.
In addition, we allow petting zoos, falconry demonstrations, parrot interactions, educational or therapeutic interactions with a variety of species under strict supervision that adhere to the Expedia Group animal welfare and guest welfare principles listed above.
We allow animal rides with equine mammals and certain domesticated animals, provided due care and attention are given to the animals and guests in line with the animal and guest welfare principles above. Animals should not be overloaded or forcibly coerced, restrained, or beaten.
Animals for commercial products and trade
Expedia Group will not support activities or attractions where animals are bred for commercial purposes or venues where products sourced from wild animals are sold. These include but are not limited to the following types of farms: Crocodile; civet coffee; turtle; tiger; snake; bear-bile.
We also prohibit activities that promote using an animal as a prop (e.g., for selfies).
Expedia Group will not support experiences where wild animals are required to perform in a demeaning, unnatural way for entertainment purposes. This can be as part of a stage or circus show that is performed in front of an audience for live entertainment. Other prohibited animal performances include snake charming, roadside animal displays, and magic/cabaret shows that utilize exotic or wild animals as part of the act.
We prohibit establishments that drug animals or engage in negative behavior reinforcement (e.g., chains, whips, and hooks) to force animals to comply.
Animals in sport
Animal racing is limited to horse and dogsled racing.
We prohibit activities where the intent is to maim or kill an animal, including trophy hunting, canned hunting, bear baiting, animal wrestling, spearfishing, as well as bull, dog, and cock fighting. We also prohibit experiences that include the feeding or use of live animals for goading other animals.
Become a responsible traveler
We are also committed to informing travelers about the places we go, the activities we engage in, and the ways in which we leave lasting impacts on our destinations. We feature content from environmentalists, zoologists, animal experts, and university researchers.
Travelers play a role too. National Geographic recommends the following for animal lovers who want help in discerning the difference between ethical and problematic wildlife experiences:
Do your research
Look for facilities where animals always appear to be well-fed and have access to clean water. Read reviews, which often include animal welfare concerns cited by visitors. Expedia Group is paying attention too. We've enacted a review-monitoring policy to scour reviews for animal-welfare concerns.
Scan the space
Observe whether animals have an appropriate environment, including shelter, ample space, a comfortable resting area, and a secluded place away from crowds. Beware of buzzwords including "gives back to conservation", "sanctuary", and "rescue". Be cautious if a facility makes these promises yet offers extensive interaction to large volumes of people.
Look for red flags
Avoid facilities where animals are visibly injured or are forced to participate in activities that could injure them or cause them pain or where enclosures aren’t clean. Being chained, performing, and interacting with tourists—giving rides, posing with them, being washed by them—are not normal for wild animals, even one born in captivity.
Rest assured; these types of activities are not offered on our sites.
Be aware that large crowds and unnatural noises cause distress, especially for animals that have experienced fear-based training, separation from mothers at birth, or other traumas.
Keep it wild
Seek experiences that offer observation of animals engaging in natural behaviors in natural environments.
Why zoos and aquariums are beneficial
AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums protect animals, conserve endangered species, and help ecosystems recover from habitat loss. And that’s just the start of what they do. Read More
Association of Zoos and Aquariums
The truth about sanctuaries
There are legitimate sanctuaries that strive to end all forms of abuse and exploitation for animals in their care. And then there are pseudo-sanctuaries… Read More.
Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries
Seven ways to watch wildlife
Keep yourself and other visitors safe and wildlife wild! Remember to treat animals in the wild with proper caution and respect and follow these simple guidelines... Read More.
US National Park Services
Change starts at home
Beyond making donations, how can we help animals in our day-to-day life? Good news! Small actions we all can take add up to big progress for animals. Read More.
Humane Society of the United States
Frequently asked questions
Q: Why do you allow activities that feature dolphins and orcas?
A: We recognize and apply six guiding principles on animal care and guest safety and require accreditation from well-respected organizations, including the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums. These organizations are experts on animal care and uphold the highest standards of animal welfare around the world. Under these accreditation practices, dolphins and other marine mammals are only allowed at accredited zoos and aquariums. In addition to working with our partners, we regularly seek out objective information and peer-reviewed science on the topic to inform our decision-making.
Q: If I see an animal welfare issue during a tour or activity, how can I report it?
A: After you participate, we will send you a link for you to submit a review of your experience. Please leave a review indicating what you saw, where you saw it, and whether the issue was related to staff, other customers, or the animals. Our team monitors reviews for potential animal welfare concerns, and health and safety issues and takes appropriate action.
Q: How often do you update your policy to match the current science related to animal welfare?
A: Continually. We partner with animal welfare groups, accrediting bodies, wildlife biologists, and other experts to regularly examine our welfare policies and the current science and thought around various issues.
Q: How often do you verify accreditation of zoos and aquariums?
A: Quarterly. We work with a partner to track accreditation changes and remove or allow activities accordingly. Our partner organizations accredit either quarterly or annually.
Q: What is your stance on animal-viewing experiences in the wild (e.g., whale watching)?
A: Wildlife-viewing tours such as whale watching, bird watching, or safaris are allowed if they don’t involve physical interaction. Even so, we expect operators to behave in an ethical way that reduces the human impact on animals in the wild.
Q: Do you allow petting zoos?
A: Only if they feature domesticated or working animals. If they feature wild or exotic animals, they are not allowed.
Last Edited: September, 2021