26th June 2023

The sun is shining, the temperature is rising, and summer is here without a doubt. School holidays are just around the corner and families are making plans for fun-filled and memorable activities. Companies such as Virgin Experience Days seek to capitalise on this by marketing ‘zookeeper’ experiences to customers, but there are innocent victims to these encounters: the captive animals who are harassed, molested, and used as props and toys for businesses’ private gain.

Send your email to Virgin Experience Days today!

What’s wrong with animal encounter experiences?

Animals do not belong in zoos. They belong in the wild, or where that has been irreparably robbed from them, they deserve sanctuaries that recreate their wild environment as closely as possible, do not breed a new generation of imprisoned animals, and seek to reintroduce animals to their natural habitats quickly and safely. To take animals from the wild and to breed animals in captivity, only to profit by selling access to them is cruel and exploitative, and to go beyond this to allow members of the public to manhandle the animals is a shameful abuse of those animals. We recently reported on the case of Pāora, a kiwi held prisoner in Miami Zoo, subjected to manhandling by staff and visitors as part of their $20 ‘Kiwi Encounter’ offering. The uproar from the people of New Zealand against the mistreatment of their national bird was so strong that the zoo stopped offering the encounter. But across the world, and very much in the UK, zoos still market experiences where visitors can handle animals, and companies like Virgin Experience Days facilitate this, and profit from it. If it is inappropriate and unacceptable for kiwi to be handled and used in animal experience, then it is inappropriate and unacceptable for any wild or captive wild animal to be handled or used in animal experiences.  

Send your email to Virgin Experience Days today!

Virgin Experience Days

A number of online experience gift retailers offer animal encounters, including Wowcher, Groupon, and Red Letter Days. Virgin Experience Days, however, offer some of the most irresponsible examples, including:

We are calling on Virgin Experience Days to immediately and permanently stop the sale of animal encounters, ‘zookeeper’, and animal handling experiences. Animals are not toys and it is irresponsible, disrespectful, and mercenary to sell contact with them.