Tourist Behaviour
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Tourist Behaviour

The Essential Companion

Edited by Philip L. Pearce

Comprehensive and accessible, this Companion offers a thorough investigation into both traditional and fresh topics in tourist behaviour and experience. Arranged chronologically, the chapters examine tourist experience from the very idea of a tourist visit to the aftermath of returning home.
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Chapter 12: Interacting with wild animals

Erik Cohen


This chapter considers the four contexts or types of situations in which tourists interact with wild animals. Four kinds of settings are identified, from fully-natural ones, which are not framed and the wild animals are unrestrained, through increasingly framed semi-natural and semi-contrived ones, to fully-contrived settings, in which nominally wild animals are severely restrained and manipulated, mainly to attract tourists. It is argued that the neoliberalisation of these encounters has resulted in a hidden commodification of tourist–animal interaction in all types of settings in recent decades. In some of the settings discussed, specialist companies have facilitated close encounters with wild animals in natural settings, as well as in commercial establishments, so that the spectators become willing victims to an illusion of wildness. The important issue of the ethics of treating animals inappropriately and in exploitative ways is highlighted.

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