Airbnb’s New Animals Policy Is Deeply Flawed Not Based on Animal Welfare or Peer-Reviewed Science

WASHINGTON,, D.C., Oct. 3, 2019—Airbnb launched its new animal experiences offering accompanied by a deeply flawed and poorly researched policy that disallows many animal experiences and facilities and demonstrates that the company lacks a basic understanding of animal welfare and professional animal care accreditation standards for zoos, aquariums, and marine parks.

“What a strange way for Airbnb to kick off its animal experiences offering-- by first noting that animal experiences are more in demand than ever, which they are,  but then condescendingly telling their potential customers all of the experiences and facilities they will “not allow,” scolding them to be “responsible,” and telling them they can’t take photos,” said Kathleen Dezio, Alliance for Marine Mammal Parks & Aquariums (AMMPA) president and CEO.  “Airbnb’s new policy is based on a false narrative peddled by animal rights extremists, not peer-reviewed science or real animal welfare."

“Fortunately, there are many ways people can purchase tickets to zoos and aquariums and interactive experiences with animals without being preached at and having their judgment questioned by an online lodging seller that has no experience or expertise with animal welfare or accredited zoological facilities.  Despite this misguided policy, our accredited institutions will continue to educate and advance the knowledge of animal conservation to millions of guests each year through safe and enriching interactive experiences with some of the world’s most amazing animals, including dolphins,” Dezio said. 

Among its many prohibitions, the policy excludes all interactive experiences with wild animals, even if they are at world-renowned, accredited zoos, aquariums or marine parks and have operated safely and humanely for decades. Interactive programs are at the heart of the work of modern zoos and aquariums because they facilitate a very special human-animal connection that leaves guests inspired, caring about the animals, and wanting to conserve them in the wild. 

The policy also arbitrarily singles out specific species and says it “does not allow” experiences with dolphins, whales, sea lions, or polar bears.  However, there is ample evidence from multiple studies that shows marine mammals thrive in professional, accredited facilities.

Recent peer-reviewed, published, scientific research shows that:

--Dolphins in accredited facilities live as long as their ocean counterparts, and in many cases longer, thanks to high-quality food, professional veterinary care, and constant play and exercise to keep them mentally and physically healthy.

--Stress levels of dolphins in human care – measured by the level of their cortisol hormone – are equal or lower than in wild dolphins.

--Wild dolphins have more compromised immune systems than those in human care.

AMMPA facilities participate in conservation studies to help:

--Reduce accidental boat strikes in wild dolphins

--Develop new drone technologies that will help scientists collect hormones from dolphins safely without restraint

--Determine the effects human made sounds in the ocean have on dolphin cognition

--Use data collected on breath physiology to triage dolphins that mass strand on beaches

--Determine the impact of human disturbances on the ability of wild dolphins to meet their daily energetic needs

All of this work would be impossible without the partnerships between AMMPA facilities and major university scientists as well as the patronage of millions of guests each year who support the conservation missions of AMMPA member organizations.

AMMPA is the preeminent accrediting body for zoos, aquariums and marine parks worldwide that exhibit marine mammals. Alliance members uphold the highest standards of care, and contribute heavily to conservation through research, education and the rescue and rehabilitation of sick and injured animals in the wild. Much of what is known today about dolphins and whales was learned by scientists doing research at accredited marine mammal facilities. 

The destructive Airbnb policy undermines that important research and would erode the ability of zoos and aquariums throughout the world to continue to rescue and rehabilitate thousands of marine animals that strand on shores throughout the world each year.

More than 700 million people visit zoos and aquariums each year, forming a powerful connection with animals and leaving inspired and armed with facts about how to help save them in increasingly threatened wild environments.

The Alliance is the preeminent trade association and accrediting body for zoos, aquariums, and marine parks throughout the world that exhibit marine mammals. Its mission is to support the highest standards of care for marine mammals and to contribute to their conservation in the wild through public education, scientific research, and the rescue and rehabilitation of sick and injured animals in the wild. Its accredited institutions in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Europe, Asia, and the Caribbean collectively possess the largest body of marine mammal experience and expertise in the world.