Effect of visitor experiences on animal behaviour and welfare

Animal feeding experiences are popular events in a vast number of zoological institutions, generating a valuable income stream and can also be important educationally. However, the impact of feeding experiences on the animals the visitors taking part is very rarely evaluated. Within WWCT zoos there are a number of animal experiences that are currently being evaluated from both an animal welfare and visitor education standpoint. The personality of the individual animals involved in experiences, frequency of events and possible predictability of experiences are being evaluated to provide evidence-based recommendations for visitor experiences at both WWCT and BIAZA institutions.

Project team:

Holly Farmer, Paignton Zoo
Kathy Baker, Newquay Zoo
Joanna Newbolt, Paignton Zoo


Jones, H., McGregor, P. K., Farmer, H.L. and Baker, K.R. 2016. The influence of visitor interaction on the behavior of captive crowned lemurs (Eulemur coronatus) and implications for welfare. Zoo Biology 35: 222-227.

Wirobski, G., Newbolt, J., and Baker, K. 2016. The effect of visitor feeding experiences on behaviour of a group of Rothschild’s giraffes. Poster presentation at the 17th Annual BIAZA Research Conference, Yorkshire Wildlife Park, June 2016.

Baker, K.R, Buss, D, Jones, H.V, Mayers, V.G and Farmer, H.L. 2015. Behavioural effects of visitor feed
experiences on lemurs are short lived. Poster presentation at the PSGB Spring Meeting, University of Roehampton, April 2015.

Jackson, R., Footitt, E., Baker, K. and Farmer, H. 2014. The effect of visitor feeding experiences on
behaviour: do animals anticipate interactions and how do they respond? Presentation at the 16th Annual BIAZA Research Symposium, Blair Drummond Safari Park, July 2014.

Mayers, V.G. and Baker, K. 2014. Lemur feeding experiences: welfare and the effect of
personality. Presentation at the 16th Annual BIAZA Research Symposium, Blair Drummond Safari Park, July 2014.

Buss, D. and Baker, K. 2013. The effects of visitor feeding experiences in a captive zoo-housed environment: Are they enriching or not? Presentation at the 15th Annual BIAZA Research Symposium, Wildwood, July 2013.