Wildlife tourism is based on interactions between tourists and non-domesticated wildlife (Ballantyne,
Packer & Falk, 2011; Bertella, 2021). The range of opportunities in wildlife tourism encounters occur
in wild, semi-captive or captive settings (Orams, 1996) and involve direct intervention on animals, or
not, in the forms of consumptive/non-consumptive activities (Tremblay, 2001). This paper primarily
focuses on the non-consumptive wildlife tourism within all types of settings, e.g. birdwatching, an
animal farm and a sanctuary, to capture the complexities and variable experiential intensities.
Consequently, ethical arguments should avoid simplistic generalizations as the types of encounters and
experiential interactions are highly heterogenous.
The range of ethical questions in wildlife tourism hinges on how to approach wildlife and what is
ethically defensible in the context of tourist-animal interaction. So how can we begin to understand
ethical management of wildlife-based tourist attractions? We propose that ethical management
frameworks can be addressed as an ethical intersection between ethics of relevance to interaction
between tourists and wildlife (Burns, 2017). Our ethical frameworks draw on multiple fields: tourism
ethics (Lovelock & Lovelock, 2013), normative ethics (Copp, 2005), animal ethics (Regan, 2001 &
2004; Fennell, 2015), environmental ethics (Holden, 2005) and management ethics (Melé, 2012).
Whilst an exploratory study, ethical insights gained from in-depth interviews with managers in three
Spanish and Romanian wildlife tourism attractions are presented. Findings reveal how ethical
implications are closely related with how the managers themselves defined and practiced ethical
management in their wildlife tourism attractions. Ethical management is compared across the three
contexts and captured as: heightened animal welfare, dedication to conservation and education, and
visitor management. Moreover, managers placed importance on shared responsibility, context, and to
enable ethical dialogue on the ethical responsibilities of wildlife tourism attractions.
Ballantyne, R., Packer, J., & Falk, J. (2011). Visitors’ learning for environmental sustainability: Testing
short- and long-term impacts of wildlife tourism experiences using structural equation modelling.
Tourism Management, 32(6), 1243-1252.
Bertella, G. (Ed.) (2021). Wildlife Tourism Futures. Encounters with wild, captive and artificial
animals. Bristol: Channel View Publications.
Burns, G. L. (2017). Ethics and responsibility in wildlife tourism: lessons from compassionate
conservation in the Anthropocene. In: I. B. de Lima & R. J. Green (Eds.) Wildlife Tourism,
Environmental Learning and Ethical Encounters pp. 213-220. Cham: Springer.
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Holden, A. (2003). In need of new environmental ethics for tourism? Annals of Tourism Research,
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Palgrave Macmillan UK.
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