Tea with Naughty Sheep
Tea with Naughty Sheep in the UK Image Credit: Airbnb

Can you imagine hiking with rescue dogs, chilling out with alpacas or cuddling cows the next time you travel? Airbnb is looking to change the way travellers view animal experiences while abroad, it’s not just about selfies anymore.

“With technology taking up so much of our lives, it’s easy to feel disconnected from nature and animals,” according to Brian Chesky, Airbnb CEO and Co-Founder. “Maybe this is why social media is dominated by animal memes. Life is better with animals, but for many busy people, looking at them through a screen is the closest they can get. With Airbnb Animal Experiences, locals and travelers are just a few clicks away from being alongside them in the real world.“

Airbnb Animal Experiences – a brand new category of Airbnb Experiences that allow people to better understand animals through caring, expert hosts and set a new standard for animal tourism. With 1,000 Experiences co-hosted by over 300 species and their human advocates, guests can now even, kayak with conservationists, learn alongside urban beekeepers or skateboard with a world record-winning bulldog!

Rescue the lost pets of Chernobyl, discover arctic foxes or paddle-board with corgis with Airbnb’s latest collection of animal-first Experiences. Guests will meet animals in places that allow for gentle observation and bring a sense of connection.

Paddleboard with corgis in the US
Paddleboard with corgis in the US Image Credit: Airbnb

Now, what about animal abuse and ethical issues? Airbnb Animal Experiences’ animal welfare policy, created in collaboration with World Animal Protection has been designed to ensure their wellbeing at all times.

The announcement comes at a time of increased scrutiny of organizations offering animal and wildlife experiences in tourist destinations. According to a New York Times article, on Wednesday, TripAdvisor announced it would end its practice of selling tickets to events or attractions that breed or buy dolphins, whales and other marine mammals. There is growing concern worldwide over the level of regulation of zoos, wildlife parks and other animal refuges, particularly in developing nations, which may potentially attract travelers to situations in which the animals are abused for their entertainment, or worse.

“We know people love animals and want to see and experience them when they travel, but we also know they most want to see animals in a setting that respects their well-being,” said Alesia Soltanpanah, Executive Director World Animal Protection. “This new animal welfare policy created in consultation with our animal welfare experts combined with the creativity and dedication of Airbnb will ensure that adventurers have many options to experience the beauty of animals in a way that considers their welfare first.”

So, you will never find an Airbnb Experience where you can kiss a dolphin or ride an elephant.

Airbnb Animal Policy Highlights

  • Wild animals: there should be no direct contact including, but not limited to, petting, feeding, or riding animals
  • Working animals: maximum one rider and never more than 20% of the animal’s weight, never to be overworked
  • Marine mammals: should never be in captivity for entertainment
  • Broader host business: should not feature elephant rides, big cat interactions, illegal wildlife trade, sporting events such as canned and trophy hunting, animals performing for entertainment
  • Responsible travel: no wild animals as selfie props or any negative training techniques

All proceeds from bookings go to non-profits. Supporting causes such as conservation, animal rescue, and veterinary care, these Experiences help scale impact, foster empathy and include caring for rescued horses, seeing released macaws and spending a day with donkeys.

These are the animal experiences you can enjoy:

  • Tea with Naughty Sheep (Loch Lomond, United Kingdom)
  • Meet the Dogs of Chernobyl (Slavutych, Ukraine)
  • Discover Arctic Foxes (Sudavik, Iceland)
  • New Zealand Getaway and Horseplay (Auckland, New Zealand)
  • Gibbon Research Assistant Experience (Phuket, Thailand)
  • Urban Rooftop Beekeeping (Hamilton, Canada)
  • Butterflies and Caterpillars Oh My! (Columbus, Ohio)
  • Meet Life-Saving Animals (Siem Reap, Cambodia)
  • See Released Macaws (Nosara, Costa Rica)
  • Ultimate Cape Town Birding (Cape Town, South Africa)
  • Wild Brooklyn Parrot Safari (Brooklyn, New York)
  • Go on a Safari with a Maasai Guide (Nakuru, Kenya)
  • Hike Runyon Canyon with a Rescue Dog (Los Angeles, CA)
  • A Day in a Gaucho’s Life in the Andes (Mendoza, Argentina)