Properly managed wildlife tourism can have potential economic benefit to communities without compromising the welfare of exotic animals, however, this is rarely the case, and exotic animals used for tourism purposes are subject to severely unethical treatment. Thailand offers tourists opportunities to participate in ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ experiences that interact with elephants and primates, however, tourists are often unaware that these industries are highly unethical. Post-experience photographs posted online can advertise these experiences to prospective travellers and have damaging effects on wildlife. Focusing specifically on zoos in the British Isles, and elephant volunteerism in Thailand, I evaluated the potential impact that both two-shot imagery on zoo websites, and user generated content on social media, has on the portrayal of wildlife tourism. Two-shot imagery refers to photographic images that contain both a human and an animal in the same frame. I analysed two-shot images on twenty-five zoo websites. I collected survey results from twelve volunteers at an elephant sanctuary in Chang Mai to begin to understand the motivation behind post-experience social media usage. The time frame of this research extended from June 2018 to January 2019. The results from this study found that those who have conservation at the heart of their motivation are unintentionally counteracting this endeavour by inadvertently promoting unethical wildlife-tourism. I conclude that zoo visitors enjoy the idea of personal connection with animals, hence the popularity of two-shot imagery. It is then this expectation of closeness generated by these photographs, that may lead to the financial support of unethical wildlife tourism when travelling abroad, and so hinder conservation efforts. This research is important for determining threats to wildlife within the tourism industries, including how both organisations and individuals with positive intentions could be hindering conservation efforts through their online portrayal of human-animal interactions.
Permanent link to this resource: https://doi.org/10.24384/3e6p-1z24
Stride, Jessica Rachael
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
Stride, Jessica Rachael
Published by Oxford Brookes University
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