The Visitor Effect on Zoo Animals: Implications and Opportunities for Zoo Animal Welfare
Wildlife Conservation and Science, Zoos Victoria, Victoria, Melbourne 3052, Australia
The Animal Welfare Science Centre, the University of Melbourne, Victoria, Melbourne 3052, Australia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 18 May 2019 / Revised: 9 June 2019 / Accepted: 10 June 2019 / Published: 17 June 2019
Research has shown that an animal’s welfare is highly dependent on how various individual animal factors (e.g., species traits, genetics, temperament and previous experience) interact with environmental features (e.g., social grouping, enclosure design and sensory environment). One prominent feature of a zoo’s environment is the presence of visitors. Decades of research on the visitor effect in zoos has demonstrated that visitors can have negative, neutral or positive impacts on zoo animal behaviour and welfare. This paper reviews the literature on the implications and potential opportunities of human–zoo animal interactions on animal behaviour and welfare, with the aim of stimulating interest, understanding and exploration of this important subject.