One of the consequences of the uncontrolled human activities is the possible detrimental effects on animals. Scientists describe animal welfare as the mental and physical wellbeing of the animal with a measure of how the individual copes in its environment and considers opportunities for expressing happiness or pleasure.
Nature-based tourism based on the opportunity to encounter wildlife has evolved so many folds over the years to ecotourism from the previous forms, such as trophy hunting and other primarily recreational interactions, that offer no benefit to the individual or the species that were dubbed predominately exploitative . It is argued that ecotourism contributes, both towards socioeconomic and environmental benefits of the tourism site.
As a tourist how can we assess whether the animals we see have good welfare, and ideally, ‘a good life’?
Recently, I’ve been a tourist in Mexico and Jordan, and, having contributed to ‘Tourism and Animal Welfare’, I took the opportunity to think more about this question. As my interests are animals and their relationships to us, each other, and their environment, I spent a lot of time observing.
In Petra in Jordan when I was visiting, I accidentally came too close to a dog who was asleep by a donkey among a group of other donkeys, and he jumped up and went berserk at me. I quickly moved back while the donkey placated him by rubbing his head against the dog’s flanks and neck. The dog, leaning into his companion in apparent ecstasy, licked the donkey’s nose and settled back down to sleep again.