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Booking.com Animal Welfare Standards for experience partners

Updated 1 month ago | 5 min read
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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.


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 obliged 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 vigor
  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 behavior by providing sufficient space, an environment resembling the animal’s natural habitat, and allowing for species-specific social behavior
  5. Freedom from fear and distress by ensuring conditions and treatment that 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 allow us to cater to basic needs, the Five Domains actively promote the positive welfare of animals beyond 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, odor, noise, and predictability
  3. Health – factors that enable good health through absence of disease, injury, impairment, and good fitness level
  4. Behavior – 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 won’t work with

With the Five Freedoms in mind, Booking.com will not contract, offer, or promote:

  • 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 wrestling, cockfights, bullfights, etc.)
  • Animal racing of any kind (e.g. horse, greyhound, or ostrich racing, rodeos, elephant polo, etc.)
  • Trophy hunting and canned hunting
  • Wild animal rides (e.g. elephant or ostrich riding)
  • Aquariums with captive whales and dolphins
  • Facilities where wild animals are purposely bred to produce commercial products (e.g. crocodile, civet coffee, bear bile, turtle, tiger, or snake farms)
  • Venues where visitors can purchase products sourced from wild animals (e.g. turtle shells, snake skins, crocodile heads, etc.)

*Where “wild animals of certain species” is mentioned, this applies to:

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

Who we will work with

Booking.com will work with:

  • Animal sanctuaries and shelters whose objectives are in line with the animals’ best interest
  • Zoos and aquariums that are members of an accredited body (e.g. WAZA, EAZA, or AIZA) and comply with our own Animal Welfare Standards
  • 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- and dolphin-watching tours
  • Responsible wildlife safaris for spotting wild animals in their natural habitat
  • Providers offering rides on or interaction with domesticated animals (e.g. horse riding), as long as they comply with our Animal Welfare Standards

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