Marine aquaria continue to be popular tourist attractions, and while not ecotourism per se, they are clearly nature-based, and fulfil parallel tourist needs for interaction with animals. In recent years, some of these facilities have recognised that visitors desire an experience that goes beyond the visual and entertainment encounters that categorise the majority of their offerings, for example, the ‘Animal Adventures’ programme at Sea World™ on Australia's Gold Coast. However, these interactions open up a whole new realm of performance management for these organisations, coordinating a range of actors from tourists, wildlife trainers, and the animals themselves. This paper examines why tourists are seeking such encounters, and shows how these interactions are contextualised and given meaning in tourist narratives, situated within an emerging social science discourse on embodiment. Observations suggest that society's over-anthropomorphising of the animals in question brings particular opportunity for dissonance. The broader significance of animal–human relations is explored through this interface, as are the implications for sustainable nature tourism in the future. There is potential here for a more enlightened approach to animal tourism, and a more nuanced categorisation of these activities in the literature.
|Number of pages||16|
|Journal||Journal of Ecotourism|
|Publication status||Published - 01 Jun 2010|