Skip to main content
Beginning of main content
Wildlife Tourism Education Portal Wildlife Tourism Education Portal


An elephant ride through the jungles of Indonesia, coming nose-to-nose with a dolphin at a resort, a selfie with a majestic tiger—there was a time when these experiences topped many travelers’ bucket lists without posing moral concern.

But in recent years, rising consciousness about the ecological impacts of tourism and the welfare of animals in captivity, along with shifting philosophies about environmental conservation have pushed questions about wildlife tourism to the forefront in the travel industry, particularly for those of us that market and sell tours and activities that involve animals.

Various groups take different stances on issues related to wildlife tourism. Some hold that wild animals should be wild and companies should not profit off of animals in captivity. Some maintain that wildlife tourism, when done well, is an important, even essential, tool for conservation, preservation, research, and education. Others support the work of sanctuaries that rescue animals from circumstances deemed inhumane, while others fight trafficking, poaching, and the illegal trade of animals and animal parts. Cultural issues come into play and legal standards vary around the globe, making it difficult for travelers to make heads or tails of what is right and wrong.

Most people who want to see and interact with animals while on vacation are interested in doing so because they’re animal lovers. They have no desire to be complicit in animal cruelty. And yet, Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit found that between 2 and 4 million tourists each year pay to visit attractions considered harmful to animal welfare. As it turns out, through the rosy lens of fun and travel, for some travelers it might not be as clear when animal welfare problems exist. When animals are present, we often assume in good faith that rules and regulations must be in place, not to mention the fact that harmful practices are frequently hidden from plain sight.

At Expedia, we believe it’s our responsibility to help educate travelers on issues related to wildlife tourism, so that they can make informed and ethical decisions about how they travel and interact with the people and animals that share our planet. Knowing more about the places we go, the activities we engage in, and the ways in which we leave lasting impacts on our destinations is key to responsible travel. As we help people go places, we want to help them do it well—thoughtfully, intentionally, and sustainably.

In an effort to further educate customers about wildlife tourism issues, Expedia has partnered with the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, African Wildlife Foundation, U.S. Wildlife Trafficking Alliance, Humane Society International, and PETA. You can read more about our individual partners below. Also, don't forget to check out our blogLink opens in new tab, where you can find articles and tips for traveling the world as an advocate of animal welfare.