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Keiko, Shamu, and friends: Educating Visitors to Marine Parks and Aquaria?

1472-4049/07/02 127-012 $20.00/0 © 2007 M. Lück & Y. Jiang
Research Note
Keiko, Shamu and Friends: Educating
Visitors to Marine Parks and Aquaria?
Michael Lück
School of Hospitality & Tourism, AUT University, Auckland,
New Zealand
Yixing Jiang
Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies, Brock University,
St Catharines, ON, L2S 3A1, Canada
doi: 10.2167/joe125.0
Marine parks are big business. The Vancouver Aquarium, for example, indi-
cated total revenues of almost $CND 15 million in 2002 (ca. $US 11.2 million)
(Vancouver Aquarium and Marine Science Centre, 2002), and the theme parks
of Anheuser Busch (including Sea World in San Diego, San Antonio, and
Orlando, Discovery Cove in Orlando, Busch Gardens in Tampa Bay and
Williamsburg, as well as Water Country USA, Sesame Place, and Adventure
Island) generated revenue of $US 1.1 billion in 2005 (Anheuser Busch, 2006).
The primary visitor magnets of these parks are often marine mammals, such as
dolphins, orcas (Orcinus orca), beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas) and various
species of pinnipeds (e.g. sea lions and seals). In particular, highly choreo-
graphed shows with marine mammals and petting pools are the centre of visi-
tors’ attention (Schwab, 1995). Killer whales are most popular among visitors,
and it is indeed not uncommon that more than 500 visitors attend each of the
several daily shows at marine parks (Wright & Kelsey, 1990). However, keeping
cetaceans, especially large species such as orcas and beluga whales, in captivity
for the purpose of entertainment is highly contentious. One argument for keep-
ing marine mammals in captivity is that marine parks contribute to education,
and thus ultimately to the conservation of marine mammals (Alliance of Marine
Mammal Parks and Aquariums, 1999). This has been observed by Whitehead
(1990: 60) who states that ‘many people are thrilled, excited and fascinated to see
captive whales performing. Knowledge is a key to action. If we are to preserve the
whales and their environment, people, and perhaps most importantly children,
must be able to experience them. Oceanaria are one way people can see whales.’
Education at Marine Parks
Education on tours with wild marine mammals has been investigated, most
notably on dolphin and whale watch tours in Australia by Orams (1993, 1994,
1995, 1996a, 1996b, 2000), but also on whale watch tours in Australia by Muloin
128 Journal of Ecotourism
(1998) and on dolphin tours in New Zealand (Lück, 2003). However, there
appears to be a lack of evidence on the educational value of keeping marine
mammals in captivity. Whale and dolphin watch tours are certainly not directly
comparable to facilities that hold marine mammals in captivity. The totally
different setting provides visitors with very different experiences. In terms of
interpretation, the main difference is that whale watch tours have a relatively
captive audience, while marine parks have a non-captive audience (Hammitt,
1984). It is generally easier to provide educational content to a captive audience,
such as tourists on whale-watching boats, than it is to a non-captive audience. In
addition, many participants on marine mammal tours in the wild desire educa-
tion as one of the main components of the tour (Lück, 2003), while for visitors to
marine parks, entertainment is the prevalent motivation (Wright & Kelsey, 1990).
Some attention has been paid to education of visitors to aquaria (Evans, 1997;
Falk & Adelman, 2003). Aquaria commonly display smaller species of sh and
other marine and amphibian wildlife. Because of the possibility to display
smaller species in relatively larger tanks, controversy about the ethics of keeping
marine animals in captivity is much lower. The Alliance of Marine Mammal
Parks and Aquariums (1999) notes that marine wildlife parks and aquaria play
an important role in conservation through education. They quote a Roper Poll
of 1995, where 92% of respondents agreed that ‘these facilities are essential in
teaching the public about marine mammals they might not otherwise get the
opportunity to learn about’ (Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums,
1999: 17). There are, however, a number of opponents to such facilities who
argue that often education is just an exercise in public relations (Williams, 2001).
According to critics, little is taught about natural behaviours, ecology, demo-
graphics or population distribution at marine parks and oceanaria (Rose &
Farinato, 1995). Also, there is no independent follow-up, which investigates
how much marine park visitors have learned (Hoyt, 1992). Opponents claim
that the information provided by marine parks is at times even false, and that
marine wildlife in captivity portray a picture of ‘trainers riding, kissing, hugging,
patting and ying off the heads of orcas’ (Williams, 2001: 50). Rose and Farinato
(1995: 38) argue that there is a clear purpose for this distortion of information:
‘The more understanding people have of the natural history and ecology of
marine mammals, the more likely they are to question why marine mammals
are held in captivity.’ Interestingly, in an awareness study undertaken in Canada
by Jiang (2004a), respondents indicated that ‘to learn about the natural history
of the marine wildlife on display’, ‘educational opportunities’ and ‘information
on conserving the natural environment’, were much more important reasons to
visit an aquarium or marine park than factors such as ‘petting dolphins or
whales’, ‘feeding dolphins or whales’, or ‘facilities of the aquarium or marine
park’. The most important attraction was the display of marine mammals and
sh, and the third most important factor for visitation was the performances
and shows of dolphins and whales (Table 1).
Jiang’s (2004a) study indicates that visitors to marine parks and aquaria show
high interest in educational opportunities during their visit. However, there is a
gap in knowledge regarding whether visitors have learned during their stay at the
facility, or how satised they were with their visit, and with the educational oppor-
tunities. Most marine parks are aware of campaigns by environmental protection
Educating Visitors to Marine Parks and Aquaria 129
organisations. Worried about negative publicity, they generally do not let
researchers investigate their customers on their premises. Thus, it is difcult to
undertake an independent study, asking visitors of the respective parks.
With the foregoing in mind, the purpose of this study is to investigate all
marine parks keeping orcas for entertainment with regards to their educational
programs. Orcas were chosen, because they are the largest marine mammals
held in captivity, and thus are the prime focus of the debate around marine
mammals in captivity.
This paper presents a preliminary study which was undertaken in order to
prepare a main project on education at marine parks and aquaria displaying
marine mammals. For this project, all marine parks keeping and displaying
orcas (Orcinus orca) were identied (13 parks worldwide at time of analysis,
now twelve parks, see Table 2). Up-to-date information on the exact numbers of
orcas in captivity is difcult to obtain, because of animal deaths, new captures,
and transfers between parks. However, some conservation organisations, such
as the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society in the UK, keep track of orcas
in captivity (Williams, 2001). In addition, marine mammal researcher Erich
Hoyt was consulted for help with up-to-date information. Lastly, private con-
servationists, for example, Stefan Jacobs, keep track of the developments in
marine parks, and publish information on their personal webpages (Jacobs,
2006). Table 2 had to be updated several times during the process of writing
and revision of this article. It displays the numbers identied from a variety of
sources as of January 2006, however, the results of the content analysis are as of
2004. The content of the marine parks in Japan was analysed with the help of a
Japanese speaking colleague.
A content analysis of the parks’ webpages, and other sources, such as arti-
cles in academic journals and newspapers, reports, and books lead to a broad
Table 1 Reasons for visitation of aquaria and marine parks
Item Mean Std. Deviation
Display of marine mammals and sh 3.95 1.10
Educational opportunities 3.94 1.09
Performances/shows of dolphins and whales 3.86 1.23
To learn about the natural history of the marine wildlife
on display
3.82 1.17
Information on conserving the natural environment 3.81 1.11
Facilities of the aquarium or marine park 3.56 1.09
Petting dolphins and whales 3.03 1.25
Feeding dolphins and whales 3.00 1.30
Rated on a 5-point Likert scale, from 1 5 very unimportant to 5 5 very important.
Source: Jiang (2004a).
130 Journal of Ecotourism
overview of what these parks offer. Babbie (1995) points out that content anal-
ysis can either code the manifest or the latent content of the investigated mate-
rial. Manifest content is the visible, tangible content of the surveyed objects.
Latent content, in contrast, investigates the underlying meaning (Babbie,
1995). Veal (1997) distinguishes between content analysis and hermeneutics,
where content analysis focuses primarily on quantitative data, and herme-
neutics on qualitative. The present study focuses solely on the manifest con-
tent of the respective webpages and additional material. The underlying
messages and meanings of this content are planned to be investigated as part
of a larger project at a later stage.
The material analysed yielded a large number of items related to a variety of
topics. A number of items addressed the same or similar content, and thus the
collected information was divided into subgroups, including ‘visitor informa-
tion’, ‘education’, ‘shows’, ‘exhibitions’, ‘entertainment’, ‘animal connection’, ‘kid’s
clubs’, ‘media information’, ‘tour operator information’, ‘events’ and ‘other
information’. In a rst step of the larger project, emphasis was placed on educa-
tional issues related to marine parks, and thus only the categories ‘education’
and ‘animal connection’ will be examined in this Research Note. The category
‘education’ comprised of items directly related to interpretation and education
at the respective marine park, while ‘animal connection’ included activities and
Table 2 Marine parks and aquaria holding orcas
Marine park/aquarium Number
of orcas
Marine park/aquarium Number
of orcas
Miami Seaquarium, USA 1 Port of Nagoya Public
Aquarium, Nagoya, Japan
SeaWorld Orlando, USA 10 Kamogawa Sea World,
Chiba, Japan
SeaWorld San Diego, USA 7 Izu-Mito Sea Paradise,
Numazu, Japan
SeaWorld San Antonio, USA 8 Taiji Whale Museum,
Wakayama, Japan
Six Flags Marine World,
Vallejo, California, USA
Marineland Niagara Falls,
Acuario Mundo Marino
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Marineland Antibes, France 5
Subtotal ‘Western Parks’ 36 Subtotal (Japan) 9
Total worldwide 45
Source: (easyJet, 2001; Jacobs, 2004; Jiang, 2004b; OrcaInfo, 1999; Williams, 1996, 2001).
Educating Visitors to Marine Parks and Aquaria 131
opportunities for direct interaction with animals in the 13 parks. The other cate-
gories did not contain educational material, but information on the parks, the
exhibits and similar content.
A limitation of the study is that the parks might not publish all their educa-
tional efforts on their webpages and brochures, although it can be expected that
in the light of much pressure from conservation groups, the parks would be inter-
ested in making their education programs and material as visible as possible.
Results and Discussion
As of 2004, there were 13 parks holding orcas worldwide (today 12). Some
parks, such as the Vancouver Aquarium and the Ocean Park in Hong Kong
have recently decided to discontinue their orca programmes. Six Flags shut
down their animal programme at the Ohio park, and transferred the orcas to
their park in California (Geauga Lake Family Amusement Park, 2004). Thus,
these three parks were not included in the study. It is not clear why these three
parks decided to abandon their orca programs; however, pressure from conser-
vation organisations and from the general public is assumed to have played a
role in this. At the time of the content analysis, Nanki Shirahama Adventure
World in Japan still kept orcas and has thus been included in the analysis. Eight
out of the 13 aquaria and marine parks are located in the Western Hemisphere,
including North and South America, and Europe (these parks will be referred
to as ‘Western Parks’ in this paper), and ve are located in Asia. Interestingly,
all remaining Asian marine parks displaying orcas are located in Japan. The
number of orcas held in the parks varies from one to nine mammals, with a total
of 49 orcas held in marine parks worldwide (today 45; Table 2).
Marineland Niagara Falls, Six Flags Vallejo, Kamogawa SeaWorld, and Izu
Mito Sea Paradise offer orca petting opportunities (Figure 1). Miami Seaquarium,
SeaWorld San Antonio, Marineland Niagara Falls, Acuario Mundo Marino and
Kamogawa SeaWorld offer feeding opportunities, and all parks, except Acuario
Mundo Marino, Marineland Antibes and the Taiji Whale Museum offer photo
opportunities with orcas. At SeaWorld in San Diego and in Orlando, visitors
have the unique opportunity to have a look behind the scenes of the park, when
participating in a ‘trainer for a day’ programme. In addition, SeaWorld Orlando
offers a ‘keeper experience’.
All marine parks offer a variety of educational components (Table 3). A
number of marine parks offer camps and special programmes for various
target groups. Camps, for example, include day, overnight and scout camps.
These are mostly for children under the age of 12, families and teachers. The
purpose of such camps is to educate children, parents and teachers about the
wildlife and attractions the aquaria have to offer (SeaWorld Orlando, 2004a).
Scout programmes are specically designed for Boy Scouts and Girl Guides,
where ‘scouts will learn about animals and the environment in a fun, interac-
tive and educational manner. All programs are designed to meet handbook
requirements and help scouts earn awards and achievements’ (SeaWorld
Orlando, 2004b). It is interesting to note that all North American marine parks
(SeaWorld in San Diego, Orlando, and San Antonio, Miami Seaquarium, Six
Flags Vallejo, and Marineland Niagara Falls) offer some sort of camp experi-
ence, while none of the marine parks in South America, Europe and Japan do.
132 Journal of Ecotourism
Six aquariums and marine parks offer lectures and/or seminars to visitors
for the purpose of educating them about the parks, the animals and environ-
mental issues (SeaWorld Orlando, Six Flags Vallejo, Marineland Antibes, Port
of Nagoya Public Aquarium, Nanki Shirahama Adventure World and Izu
Mito Sea Paradise). Most marine parks and aquaria provide a variety of
educational material, either on their webpages or by mail order. Marineland
Niagara Falls and Kamogawa SeaWorld offer information on animal caregivers,
including tasks of trainers, training schedules, feeding, and animal care
(Kamogawa SeaWorld, 2004; Marineland Niagara Falls, 2004a). Conservation
information on marine wildlife and the environment is provided by the three
American SeaWorld parks, Marineland Niagara Falls and Marineland Antibes.
In addition, the webpages of the three US SeaWorld parks, Six Flags Vallejo,
Marineland in Niagara Falls and Antibes and the Taiji Whale Museum offer
learning opportunities about marine mammals on their respective webpages
(Marineland Antibes, 2004; Marineland Niagara Falls, 2004b; SeaWorld
Orlando, 2004a; SeaWorld San Antonio, 2004; SeaWorld San Diego, 2004; Six
Figure 1 Petting Orcas at Marineland, Niagara Falls, Canada
Source: Michael Lück.
Educating Visitors to Marine Parks and Aquaria 133
Table 3 Animal connection and education at marine parks, oceanaria and aquaria holding orcas
Six Flags
Port of
Izu Mito
Orca petting 3 3 3
Orca feeding 3 3 3 3 3 3
Photos with
3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3
3 3
Camps 3 3 3 3 3 3
Boy & girl
scout camp
3 3 3
Adventure 3 3 3 3
3 3 3 3
For teachers 3 3 3 3 3
For kids 3 3 3 3 3 3
Lectures/seminars 3 3 3 3 3 3
Care/caregivers 3 3
134 Journal of Ecotourism
Table 3 Continued
Six Flags
Port of
Izu Mito
3 3 3 3 3
Careers with
3 3 3 3
resources for
3 3 3
Information on
3 3
Glossary 3
Online animal
3 3 3 3 3 3 3
Online quizzes 3
3 3
3 3 3 3
Educating Visitors to Marine Parks and Aquaria 135
Flags Marine World, 2004; Taiji Whale Museum, 2004). In addition to online
information, SeaWorld Orlando, Six Flags Vallejo and Marineland Antibes sell
educational material online, for example, books, videos, posters, teacher
guides and school supplies. The three American SeaWorld parks, Seaquarium
Miami and Marineland Niagara Falls also offer information on careers with
marine mammals in their respective parks. The Taiji Whale Museum and the
Port of Nagoya Public Aquarium provide information on commercial whaling,
and on tools, boats and equipment used for whaling (Port of Nagoya Aquarium,
2004; Taiji Whale Museum, 2004). When comparing the parks by location,
it becomes clear that the Western parks tend to have a clearer focus on educa-
tion (Table 4).
While Western parks developed a much more practical approach to educa-
tion, for example through camps and special programmes for children and edu-
cators, Japanese parks focus more on theoretical education through lectures
and seminars. In addition, educational materials are more comprehensive, and
easier to obtain at the Western parks. For instance, ve out of the eight Western
parks provide information on conservational issues, while only one out of the
ve Japanese parks was found to do the same. Williams (2001), suggests that
one of the reasons for this is that all remaining Asian marine parks holding
orcas are located in Japan, and Japan is still an important capture site. For exam-
ple, two orcas were captured in Japan in 1997, with one animal sent to the Port
of Nagoya Public Aquarium and the other to the Izu-Mito Sea Paradise (Jacobs,
2006). Five out of the eight Western parks offer a link to animal information on
their webpage; only one of the Japanese parks offer such a service; in addition,
only Western parks provide a glossary and ‘online quizzes’, while none of the
Japanese parks sold educational materials.
Table 4 Educational aspects of Western marine parks vs. Japanese marine parks
Western marine
parks and aquaria
(n 5 8)
Japanese marine
parks and aquaria
(n 5 5)
Educational mission statement 1 0
Camps/special programmes 6 0
Lectures/seminars 3 4
Conservational issues 5 1
Information on commercial whaling 0 2
Animal information on webpage,
glossary, online quizzes
5 1
Educational material for sale and/or
5 0
Information on careers 4 0
136 Journal of Ecotourism
Marine parks justify the keeping of orcas, belugas and dolphins in captivity
on the basis of education, and conservation through education. However, oppo-
nents argue that there is little education to gain at the parks. Jiang’s (2004a)
study conrmed that the display and performances/shows of marine mammals
are one of the main attractions to those parks, but that educational aspects are
equally important for visitors. A content analysis of the webpages of the vari-
ous marine parks and aquaria was conducted in order to gain an understanding
of the various educational tools that are offered by these parks. Investigating
the depth and quality of the material was not part of this exercise. It was found
that a number of parks do offer a variety of educational programmes and mate-
rial. Leading this effort are the parks of the SeaWorld group in San Diego,
Orlando and San Antonio. The most striking nding, however, was that there
appears to be a distinct difference between the Western parks, and those in
Japan. Generally, the Western parks have a much more focused and profes-
sional education system with many hands-on components in place, while the
Japanese parks rely more on formal education through lectures and seminars.
Final Note
During the process of writing and revising this Research Note, the orca
‘Neocia’ at Marineland in Niagara Falls, Canada, died at age 12, on 1 August
2004. Neocia was the fth whale in as many years to die at Marineland Niagara
Falls (Pellegrini, 2004). On 20 October 2004 ‘Hudson’ (6 years old) and on 21
December 2005 ‘Kandu 7’ (21 years old) died at Marineland. Consequently,
Marineland is left with only three orcas (Jacobs, 2006). On 29 August 2004, ‘Ran’
(15 years old), on 18 September 2004, ‘Kyu’ (7.5 years old), and on 21 January
2005 ‘Goro’ (19 years old) died at Nanki Shirahama Adventure World in Japan.
There are currently no orcas left at this park. ‘Splash’ died at SeaWorld California
on 5 April 2004, aged 15.5 years and ‘Kim 2’ died at Marineland Antibes on 23
November 2005, aged 23 (Jacobs, 2006).
The authors would like to thank Chiharu Hibino for her assistance with the
retrieval and translation of information from the Japanese websites, and Erich
Hoyt for his help with updating data on orcas in captivity. Thanks also go to
David Telfer and David Fennell for their comments on earlier drafts of this
paper. Also many thanks to the two referees, whose valuable comments made
this Research Note much stronger.
Any correspondence should be directed to Michael Lück, School of Hospitality
& Tourism, AUT University, Private Bag 92006, Auckland, New Zealand
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Supplementary resource (1)

... There have been a number of studies investigating the motivations to visit zoos and aquaria/marine parks. For example, Linke and Winter (2011) looked at visitor motivations in two Australian zoos (Melbourne Zoo and Werribee Open Range Zoo), and Lück and Jiang (2007) in Canada looked at visitations to marine parks in general. Both studies used a 5-point Likert-type scale, ranging from 1='not at all important' to 5='very important', and their results are thus comparable. ...
... In contrast to these findings, among respondents of their survey of actual zoo visitors, entertainment items were the highest ranked motivators for the zoo visit, and education items the lowest. Respondents of a survey in Canada ranked performances and shows as the third most important motivation to visit marine parks (Lück & Jiang, 2007), and in Linke and Winter's (2011) study on zoo visitors in Australia, entertainment items were the highest ranked motivational factors for visiting zoos. ...
... Perhaps most unsettling is that the zoo visitor is only marginally more knowledgeable than people who have little to no interest in animals at all (see also Mason, 2007), which suggests that educational programmes are not as successful as zoos would have the public believe. More specifically, captive breeding programmes are hampered by the fact that animals captured for these purposes often die shortly after being placed in captivity (see, for example, Lück & Jiang, 2007). But how or if animals live while in captivity is only part of the picture. ...
... All of the above points to the fact that captivity is more consumptive than non-consumptive in the light of the consequences of removal. The disconnect between ecotourism and the zoo is further accentuated in studies showing that fun and entertainment (over conservation and education) are the main reasons why people visit zoos (Lück & Jiang, 2007;Turley, 1999b). Some commentators have gone so far as to suggest that education is really just an exercise in public relations (Williams, 2001). ...
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... Buckley, 2005;Cohen, 2012;Moscardo, 2007). Eläinten hyödyntämisen vastustajat vetoavatkin siihen, että opetuksellinen hyöty ei ole riittävä, jotta se voisi kompensoida eläimille aiheutetun kärsimyksen (Lück & Yixing, 2007). Eläinten hyvinvoinnin arvon huomioiva näkökulma nojaa utilitarismiin, jonka mukaan ihmisen nautinto on eläimen nautintoa tärkeämpi, mutta tästä huolimatta myös eläimen kokeman kärsimyksen vähentäminen on tärkeää (Hurka, 2006;ks. ...
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Tourism is one of the social practices in which human-animal encounters are direct and conscious. Animals not only play a key role in the creation of tourism and leisure experiences, but they have even become icons and symbols of destinations around the world. Hence, the theoretical problematization of human-animal relationships is clearly reflected in the tourism context, where animals are turned into resources controlled by tourism organizations to serve organizational goals. It is not surprising that concern for the rights and welfare of animals used in tourism has been growing among tourism scholars and the public in general. This literature review contributes to a better understanding of human-animal encounters in tourism by examining the focus of this discussion within the scope of tourism studies. Results indicate that human-animal encounters in tourism have largely been approached from ethical, consumer and management perspectives. In doing so, most attention has been on evaluating the role of animals in the production of different tourism experiences, as well as their rights and welfare in relation to the work they perform. Relatively few studies have examined the position, meaning and active agency of animals as a part of human-animal tourism encounters.
... It is interesting to note that while much of the use of animals is related to the hospitality and tourism (H&T) industry, very little effort has been geared towards exploring the ethical aspects of using animals in tourism initiatives (Hall and Brown, 1996). Furthermore, while many professional fields involving the use of animalsusually within the context of experiments on animals, such as psychology, biology and medical studies -have dedicated a considerable amount of research and teaching to ethical dilemmas and debates, no equivalent progress was made in the field of H&T studies, in spite of the massive use of animals in this industry (Lück and Jiang, 2007;Orams, 1996;Zhang and Lee, 2007). ...
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Purpose – The aim of this paper is to discuss the issues of animal rights in the hospitality and tourism (H&T) industry, and to suggest ethical guidelines for the operation of animal-based attractions. Design/methodology/approach – The issue is presented through an extensive literature review, in addition to current examples and demonstrations from the industry. Findings – For years, the H&T industry has been heavily criticized for its inconsiderate and even cruel use of animals for entertainment purposes. However, there are clear indications, presented in this paper, of a growing tendency to adopt approaches that emphasize animal welfare and even animal rights. Research limitations/implications – The growing awareness of animal rights, the changing public opinion and the influence of animal rights' movements is forcing animal attractions to re-evaluate their attitudes toward the use of animals. Generally, animal attractions should adopt an approach that combines entertainment, education and welfare concerns. Specific guidelines for each component and recommendations are provided. However, this issue requires further discussion and research to clarify key problems. Originality/value – The paper is of value to researchers and practitioners who are interested in the development of H&T ethics regarding the use of animals.
In order to continue its business sustainably, any industry that uses animals must largely align their ethical position with that of the general public: ‘the mainstream social ethic’. Although zoos are transitioning from entertainment venues to conservation actors, many cetacean (whale and dolphin) facilities present the animals in unnatural-looking enclosures and entertainment-driven contexts. But what is the ‘mainstream social ethic’ regarding cetacean facilities, and what might it mean for the industry’s future? The evidence is first reviewed on cetacean welfare and the purported purposes for displaying cetaceans in the past and present. The mainstream social ethic is then defined, suggesting we may be at a crossroads for this industry. Welfare has improved in the last decades but could be further enhanced through providing more choice and control in cetaceans’ environments, particularly in enrichment, training and social groupings. Sanctuary settings provide a potential environment with more choice and control, but are still in the very initial stages of development. Fundamental, structural changes to the mission, presentation of the cetaceans and business model seem to be needed to realign the public display of cetaceans with the mainstream social ethic of the times.
Despite the considerable incorporation of animals in entertainment and leisure venues, only limited efforts have been geared towards exploring the ethical aspects of using animals in these initiatives. This lack of attention is especially evident in the tourism literature, despite the great relevancy of animal-based attractions to the tourism industry. Consequently, the purpose of the current research was to fill the gap in the literature by investigating tourists' attitudes toward various animal-based attractions, using survey that was administered to tourists in the Central Florida area. The central findings of the study concerned the prominent aspects of tourists' ethical evaluation of animal-based attractions. The tourists expressed the highest agreement with the roles of the attractions in conservation, in family-oriented experience, in education, and as an alternative to nature. They also expressed a clear animal welfare approach, as they put the greatest importance on theway the animals are treated and trained by their keepers among conditions for ethical operations. Nevertheless, it was found that the key to developing positive attitudes toward attractions is the conviction in general arguments in favor of their presence, while specific sites' attributes seem to be more limited in their influence on the tourists' overall attitudes. Overall the study revealed some interesting findings with important implications for both research and practice, including specific recommendations for the management and marketing functions in animal-based attractions, especially with regard to potential steps for the purpose of improving and enhancing their ethical image among tourists.
An upsurge in dolphin tourism has occurred over the past thirty years, including a steady increase of operations focused on swim activities. Apprehension over the rise in dolphin swim tourism on a global scale has led to few studies examining the social impacts of this activity. Contemporary issues pertaining to dolphin swim tourism will be discussed by using existing literature to present an overview of dolphin swim experiences, and review and contrast the differences in human-dolphin exchanges. Prior literature reviews on swim with dolphin research have been completed (Samuels and Spradlin 1995, Scheer 2010); however, they fail to include work on human perceptions of these experiences, and do not focus on the social implications of human-dolphin connections. This paper will update the literature including some of the research from the past ten years emphasizing tourist perceptions of dolphin swim activities.
Coastal and marine tourism is a growing and increasingly important component of the wider tourism industry. Its influences are global and there are now no destinations, ecosystems, or human communities inaccessible for recreation and tourism. Thus, exploring tourism that focuses on coastal and marine settings is an important area for academic focus. This chapter discusses the essence of coastal and marine tourism, and explores the development of it as a field of academic investigation. It introduces research approaches and discusses emerging research findings and future trends. Finally, priorities for future research are provided.
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To identify tourists' opinions and attitudes on the use of animals in tourist attractions, a qualitative exploratory study was conducted with three focus groups of tourists who visited Orlando, Florida. The findings indicated that the participants' ethical perceptions of animal-based tourist attractions were made up of three hierarchically ordered layers: (1) general justifications for operating such venues, (2) a belief in the driving forces leading to an ethical operation, and (3) the specific conditions required for the ethical operation of animal-based tourist attractions. The results and their meanings are discussed as a framework for future research in this field.
Ethical issues in wildlife tourism have been the subject of increasing academic interest in recent years. This article begins by examining the issues that arise from extending moral consideration to animals through an exploration of the boundaries that can be drawn in order for a being to be considered part of the moral community. Issues of animal suffering during wildlife tours are then explored using catch and release sport fishing and aquaria as examples. Utilitarianism (with its emphasis on consequentialism, welfare, and ensuring the greatest good for interested parties) is then introduced and its potential to act as an ethical framework for marine wildlife tourism is considered and evaluated. The article concludes that although utilitarianism has certain weaknesses as an ethical philosophy, its consequentialist focus and its requirement that the interests of both human and animals involved in wildlife tourism interactions are given equal consideration, can help ensure that more balanced decisions are made regarding the distribution of benefits and costs that result from marine wildlife tours.
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Tourist use of the natural environment has continued to increase rapidly. This has resulted in many authors expressing concern over the impact of this increasing use. This paper briefly reviews these concerns and outlines the general types of management responses to increasing tourist pressure on the natural environment. One type of management response lies in educating tourists and this paper argues that this can be an effective means of reducing negative impacts. A number of important educational techniques which can be used in an interpretation programme for 'ecotourists' is outlined and their use and assessment is advocated.
Ecotourism associated with wildlife is becoming increasingly popular. The effects on wildlife of this increasing popularity are causing concern. Environmental interpretation programs may be a means of minimising negative effects if they are able to change tourists' behaviour. A review of cognitive psychology literature and theories of learning shows that simply increasing information and understanding does not necessarily result in more appropriate human behaviour. However, there are several techniques, such as the creation and resolution of cognitive dissonance and the use of the affective domain, which may create more effective interpretation. This paper reviews relevant theories of learning and offers guidelines for the creation of effective interpretation programs in the context of tourist - wildlife interaction.
There are a wide variety of opportunities for people to interact with wildlife and the demand for these opportunities is growing rapidly. This range of opportunities can be viewed as a Spectrum of Tourist‐Wildlife Interaction Opportunities (SoTWIO). Within this spectrum are both situations where tourists view captive wildlife in facilities such as zoos and circuses and ones where tourists interact with wildlife in the wild, for example, in national parks or the marine environment. There are a wide range of management regimes and structures which are used to control the interaction between tourists and wildlife, and these regimes can be categorised as physical, regulatory, economic and educational. Currently, the management of interaction is dominated by physical and regulatory strategies, but considerable potential exists to increase the role of education‐based management strategies. The development of a conceptual model which clarifies the range of wildlife interaction opportunities and the management regimes used, and which specifies the outcomes desired, establishes a basis upon which the effectiveness of education can be tested.
Familiarization, defined as visitor ability to recognize environmental information and proposed as a cognitive process in environmental interpretation, was examined for 150 users of forest trails. Respondents were asked to indicate the degree to which they recognized correctly statements concerning the content of interpretive sign messages. Nearly three-quarters of the trail users recognized 70 percent or more of the content of the messages. The average familiarity score of hikers was 78 percent. Implications for familiarity as a cognitive process in environmental interpretation are discussed.
Most free-choice science learning institutions, in particular science centers, zoos, aquariums, and natural history museums, define themselves as educational institutions. However, to what extent, and for which visitors, do these free-choice learning settings accomplish their educational mission? Answering this question has proven challenging, in large part because of the inherent variability of visitors to such settings. We hypothesize that the challenges of measuring free-choice science learning might be diminished if it were possible to pool populations during analysis in ways that reduced this variability. Specifically, we propose grouping learners according to their entering understanding and attitudes, using qualitative categories such as minimal, moderate, and extensive. In this article, we use data collected at the National Aquarium in Baltimore to determine whether grouping makes it possible to discern more readily the nature of changes in aquarium visitors' conservation knowledge and attitudes. Although analysis revealed that there were significant changes in both conservation knowledge and attitudes, entry to exit, for all 100 visitors studied, a more detailed analysis revealed that gains were not evenly distributed across all visitors. The results support the hypothesis that the grouping of learners into minimal, moderate, and extensive conservation knowledge and attitude categories enabled a more fine-grained and accurate understanding of changes in aquarium visitor's conservation learning. © 2003 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Res Sci Teach 40: 163–176, 2003
Marine aquaria claim that they help to elevate the current low profile of marine conservation through public education. The effectiveness of aquaria as centres for marine conservation education was assessed using social survey techniques, at three large commercial aquaria in the south-west of England. The aquaria managers did not believe that most visitors were interested in receiving educational information, in particular on conservation topics. Textual analysis revealed that aquaria's interpretative material contained very few references to conservation and portrayed a distorted image of the marine environment. The feedback from the questionnaires revealed no evidence for an increase in visitors' sympathy towards and understanding of marine conservation following a visit to an aquarium. The majority of visitors wanted public aquaria to increase their levels of interpretation. In particular, visitors wanted more information on conservation and how they, as individuals , could contribute to preserving the marine environment. As well as benefiting conservation, increasing the educational impact of aquaria could have significant commercial advantages, e.g. increased visitor satisfaction and numbers. Suggestions on how these mutual benefits could be achieved are briefly outlined. Their success will depend on the degree of cooperation which can be forged between commercial aquaria and conservationists
Environmental education and interpretation became common components on wildlife viewing tours. Whale and dolphin watching tours are no exception and research suggests the implementation of educational interpretation as an agent for conservation. However, there is little knowledge on how the tourists on those tours feel about interpretation, i.e. do tourists want to be educated during their holidays? This study addressed this question on swim-with-dolphin tours at three locations in New Zealand. The distributed questionnaires included specific questions, but also gathered open-ended data. Results support the demand for structured interpretation programmes on marine mammal tours. Despite interpretation in place (mostly about the dolphins), respondents clearly indicated that they would have liked to receive more information, in particular about the wider marine environment.