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In today’s tech era, Airbnb wants its customers to remember wildlife is more than just a selfie prop or a cool performance on the internet. With a new animal tour policy, the homesharing giant is making its experiences more animal-friendly.
Since launching its Airbnb Experiences category in November 2016, the company went a step further on Thursday introducing its first Airbnb Animal Experiences category to connect wildlife and travelers in a safe environment. With a host of over 300 species and human advocates, there are now 1,000 activities guests can book for these interactions.
Working in collaboration with World Animal Protection, Airbnb will be the first major booking platform to offer a category that is based around this new animal welfare policy.
“We know people love animals and want to see and experience them when they travel, but we also know they most want to see animals in a setting that respects their well-being,” said Alesia Soltanpanah, the executive director of World Animal Protection.
Many of its newer highlights include no direct contact with wild animals, working animals can no longer be overworked, and the company will stop featuring elephant rides. Instead, visitors can have more interactive experiences, like having tea with naughty sheep, paddle boarding with corgis, and for those seeking more adventure, hiking with rescue dogs.
“This new animal welfare policy created in consultation with our animal welfare experts combined with the creativity and dedication of Airbnb will ensure that adventurers have many options to experience the beauty of animals in a way that considers their welfare first,” Soltanpanah said.
Airbnb has also secured an exclusive partnership with The Dodo, the leading brand for mobile animal content, to connect guests both online and off. For its urban guests who are usually only able to see wildlife from internet videos, the company is offering experiences that will connect with animals in a way they weren’t able to before.
“With technology taking up so much of our lives, it’s easy to feel disconnected from nature and animals,” said Brian Chesky, Airbnb CEO and co-founder. “Maybe this is why social media is dominated by animal memes. Life is better with animals, but for many busy people, looking at them through a screen is the closest they can get. With Airbnb Animal Experiences, locals and travelers are just a few clicks away from being alongside them in the real world.“
Airbnb’s news on Thursday follows TripAdvisor’s announcement on Wednesday that it, too, is expanding its animal welfare policy. The new policy will put an end to ticket sales that contribute to the captivity of future generations of marine mammals.