What are the animal welfare guidelines for Airbnb Experiences?
Airbnb Experiences go beyond the typical tours and classes. Designed and led by inspiring locals, hosts use their expertise to immerse each guest in a unique world. For experiences that include animals, Airbnb is committed to protecting their welfare.
These guidelines were created in consultation with World Animal Protection, an organization committed to improving the lives of animals. They apply to experiences involving wild animals in the wild and in captivity, as well as domesticated animals under human care. We believe all animals should be respected for their intrinsic value and role in the global ecosystem, so experiences that violate these guidelines or otherwise threaten the welfare and/or conservation of animals will be removed from Airbnb.
Wild animals in the wild
Airbnb does not allow experiences involving intentional direct contact with wild animals in the wild including, but not limited to, petting, feeding, or riding animals, except for certain Social Impact Experiences in which the validated non-profit is conducting conservation research.
Animals in captivity
Animal Welfare Principles
Good animal welfare is measured by fitness and a sense of well-being. Airbnb hosts commit that their experiences strive to ensure the highest quality of life for animals involved, using the guiding principles of animal welfare, the Five Freedoms:
- Freedom from hunger or thirst with access to fresh water and an appropriate diet to maintain full health
- Freedom from discomfort by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area
- Freedom from pain, injury, or disease by treating animals respectfully and providing prompt access to veterinary care
- Freedom to express normal behavior by providing sufficient space, proper facilities, and allowing for company of the animal’s own kind
- Freedom from fear and distress by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering
Rescues and sanctuaries
There are many places that may call themselves rescues and sanctuaries but they don’t always operate in the animals’ best interest. Airbnb does not allow sanctuaries to host experiences if they:
- Use wild animals for direct interactions with travelers, or in performances or shows
- Buy or sell wild or wild-hybrid animals, or products derived from them
- Breed wild animals or wild-hybrid animals, unless they are part of an official, recognized breeding program where the animals are being responsibly released back into the wild
There are exceptions for certain Social Impact Experiences where a validated non-profit is conducting rehabilitation or rehoming.
Domesticated and farmed animals
Domesticated animals must be given proper shelter, care, food, and water. Any condition that impairs their welfare, as outlined by the Five Freedoms above, must be addressed promptly.
When interacting with working animals (ex: horses, mules, yaks, camels, and donkeys):
- Never overload a working animal (ex: carry no more than one rider per animal and never more than 20 percent of the working animals’ body weight)
- Never overwork a working animal (ex: do not ride in extreme weather conditions)
- No working animal carriage or cart rides in an urban environment
- The animal’s eyes should be alert and clear
When interacting with domesticated animals:
- Proper handling gives the freedom for the animal to disengage from direct contact when they want to
- Travelers should not feed stray or free-roaming domesticated animals unless it's part of a Social Impact Experience where a validated non-profit is rescuing stray animals
Zoos and aquariums
Only zoos and aquariums with accreditation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) are allowed to host an experience. Airbnb does not allow direct contact or performances with wild animals even in these cases.
Animal welfare must not be compromised when it comes to dog sledding. This includes the dogs being handled humanely, being physically fit and trained for the activity, and having adequate living situations that protect them from variable weather.
Sled dogs should be socialized properly to encourage appropriate behavior towards humans and other animals. Euthanasia must not be used as a means of population control for healthy, rehomeable sled dogs.
Airbnb prohibits activities that cause animals harm, including but not limited to:
Airbnb does not allow experiences where guests ride, bathe, or feed elephants.
These activities may seem harmless, but captive elephants go through a stressful training process to be able to interact with humans. Often elephants are restrained, bullhooks are used, and they are overworked. Airbnb seeks to promote ethical elephant experiences that commit to a high standard of elephant welfare and conservation.
Big cat interactions
Airbnb does not allow experiences involving direct interactions with big cats. Activities like big cat walking, cub petting, and selfies with big cats promote poor animal treatment and are prohibited.
Wild animals in restaurants, cafes, and entertainment venues
Airbnb does not allow experiences involving wild animals performing for entertainment purposes. This includes, but is not limited to, dolphin shows, bears riding bicycles, charming cobra shows, tigers in captivity at restaurants, alligator and crocodile parks, circuses, animal amusement parks, traveling petting zoos, and exotic pet cafes.
Marine mammals in captivity
Airbnb does not allow experiences involving marine mammals in captivity, except for certain Social Impact Experiences in which the validated non-profit is conducting rescue or rehabilitation. It is unnatural and detrimental for marine mammals like dolphins, whales, sea lions, and polar bears to be kept in captivity for entertainment purposes.
Airbnb does not allow experiences involving the purchase or consumption of wild animal products. This includes the purchase of souvenirs and products like tortoiseshell, skins, horns, scales, and ivory, and food products like shark fin soup, turtle soup, whale meat, bear bile, civet coffee, bush meat, snake blood, and tiger wine.
Airbnb does not allow experiences involving certain sports where the animals may be harmed or overexerted. This includes, but is not limited to, canned and trophy hunting, bull-fighting and running, bear baiting, cockfighting, elephant polo, rodeo, greyhound racing, dog sled racing, horse racing, and horse polo.
We encourage hosts and guests to think carefully about their role and responsibility in ensuring animal welfare. In addition to the requirements above, here are some other things to consider:
Selfies and animals as photo props
Photos should not be captured at the expense of a wild animal, even in captivity. Airbnb prohibits experiences where there is direct contact with wild animals or wild animals are restrained for a photo.
Wild animals of all shapes and sizes
Wild animals come in all shapes and sizes, from tigers and bears to sloths and koalas. Responsible wild animal encounters entail keeping a safe and respectful distance, not chasing the animals, keeping the noise to a minimum, and leaving no waste behind.
When training animals, it should be reward-based. Negative punishment when training is prohibited. This includes, but is not limited to, being drugged, chained, starved, or prodded with sticks.
Conduct beyond the specific experience
Being a responsible host goes beyond the experience on our platform. Airbnb will not allow hosts whose broader business or services do not comply with these guidelines.
Experiences that violate these guidelines, threaten the safety of our hosts or guests, or risk the welfare and/or conservation of animals will be removed from the platform. These guidelines may be updated from time to time, so please be sure to check back regularly. Note: these guidelines exclude fishing, crabbing, clamming, and similar activities.
For all experiences, Airbnb offers 24/7 community support. If you come across an experience that violates the Animal Welfare Guidelines, threaten the safety of our hosts or guests, or risk the welfare and / or conservation of animals, please contact us. If applicable, make a note of the date, time and location, as well as the type of animals involved in the experience.
Last updated: September 18, 2019
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