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Booking.com Animal Welfare Standards for accommodation partners

Updated 1 month ago | 5 min read time
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Our mission at Booking.com is to make it easier for everyone to experience the world. We believe this should be done with respect, humility and awareness for the world’s people, animals, communities and environment. As an industry leader, we have a responsibility to also take the lead on developing sustainable tourism and helping ensure the world’s beauty is left for future generations to experience.


What’s in this article?


The Five Freedoms Model

We take our lead on animal welfare from the Five Freedoms model, which describes the basic needs of animals under human care. According to this model, humans are obligated to ensure that animals have:

  1. Freedom from hunger or thirst through ready access to fresh water and an appropriate diet to maintain full health and vigour
  2. Freedom from discomfort by providing an appropriate environment, including shelter and a comfortable resting area
  3. Freedom from pain, injury or disease by treating animals respectfully, ensuring qualified animal management and access to veterinary care
  4. Freedom to express normal behaviour by providing sufficient space, an environment resembling the animal’s natural habitat, and allowing for species-specific social behaviour
  5. Freedom from fear and distress by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering

The Five Domains Model

We use the Five Freedoms Model alongside the Five Domains Model to create more robust animal welfare standards. While the Five Freedoms allows us to cater to basic needs, the Five Domains actively promotes the positive welfare of animals beyond just fair treatment. According to this model, all animals undergoing human-animal interaction have the right to:

  1. Nutrition – factors that involve the animal’s access to sufficient, balanced, varied and clean food and water
  2. Environment – factors that enable comfort through temperature, substrate, space, air, odour, noise and predictability
  3. Health – factors that enable good health through absence of disease, injury, impairment and good fitness level
  4. Behaviour – factors that provide varied, novel and engaging environmental challenges through sensory inputs, exploration, foraging, bonding, playing, retreating and others
  5. Mental state – by presenting positive situations in the previous four functional domains, the mental state of the animal should benefit from predominantly positive states, such as pleasure, comfort or vitality, while reducing negative states such as fear, frustration, hunger, pain or boredom

Who we will not work with

With the Five Freedoms in mind, Booking.com will not work with properties that offer or promote the following experiences as part of the room rate:

  • Direct interaction with wild animals of certain species*
  • Animal performances, shows and circuses involving wild animals of certain species*
  • Animal fights of any kind (e.g. bear-baiting, crocodile/alligator wrestling, cockfights, bullfights)
  • Animal racing of any kind (e.g. horse racing, greyhound racing, ostrich racing, rodeos, elephant polo)
  • Trophy hunting and canned hunting
  • Wild animal rides (e.g. elephant riding, ostrich riding)
  • Visits to aquariums with captive whales and dolphins
  • Visits to facilities where wild animals are purposely bred to produce commercial products, including – but not limited to – crocodile farms, civet coffee farms, bear bile farms, turtle farms, tiger farms and snake farms
  • Visits to venues where visitors can purchase products sourced from wild animals (e.g. turtle shells, turtle meat, snakeskins, crocodile heads)

* Where ‘wild animals of certain species’ is mentioned, this applies to:

  • Marine mammals (including dolphins, walruses, sea lions, whales and porpoises)
  • Elephants
  • Bears
  • Big cats (including lions, tigers, leopards and cheetahs)
  • Orangutans and other primates
  • Sloths
  • Birds of prey
  • Reptiles

Who we will work with

Booking.com will work with partners who offer or promote the following experiences as part of the room rate:

  • Visits to animal sanctuaries and shelters whose objectives are in line with the animals’ best interest
  • Visits to zoos and aquariums that are members of an accredited body (e.g. WAZA, EAZA or AIZA) and comply with our standards
  • Visits to venues where visitors can observe wild animals in a (semi-) natural environment
  • Responsible eco-tours that conserve the environment and sustain the well-being of the animals involved with a focus on education
  • Responsible whale-watching and dolphin-watching tours
  • Responsible wildlife safaris – spotting wild animals in their natural habitat
  • Rides on or interaction with domesticated animals (e.g. horse riding), so long as providers comply with our standards

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