Two hundred UK zoo visitors were asked about their attitudes regarding the feeding of live prey to zoo animals. All visitors agreed with live insects being fed to lizards, providing it was done off-exhibit, and only 4% objected if done on-exhibit. Seventy-two percent of visitors agreed with live fish being fed to penguins on-exhibit and 84.5% agreed to feeding live fish off-exhibit. However, only 32% agreed to a live rabbit being fed to a cheetah on exhibit, whereas 62.5% agreed to this if done off-exhibit. In general we found female interviewees more likely to object to the feeding of live vertebrate prey. Comments volunteered by interviewees suggested that they agreed with feeding live vertebrate prey because ‘it is natural’. If they objected, it was because ‘it would upset them or their children’. Zoo Biol 16:343–347, 1997. © 1997 Wiley-Liss, Inc.