The Lives of Animals Research Group

The Lives of Animals Research Group

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Wildlife Ecotourism


Wildlife tourism accounts for 20-40% of global tourism and 10% of global GDP.  While a lucrative industry, scholarly studies increasing reveal that many animals in the tourism industry are subject to poor welfare and/or conservation management. As public concern mounts, more tourists are seeking out alternative nature-based tourism such as ecotourism. Yet limited information exists as to the circumstances and experiences of animals in ecotourism operations.

Siobhan Speiran joined our research team as a PhD student in Environmental Studies at Queen’s University in September 2017.  She obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Zoology and English (Hons.), as well as a Master’s in English Literature from the University of Guelph. Her Master’s research used post-colonial and post-humanist theory to probe de-/re-constructions of femininity in hyper-masculine and science fiction film. Her PhD research explores the lives and welfare of animals in ecotourism, and endeavours to make visible these (invisible) actors within an industry which often assigns them instrumental value and ignores their interests. 

Siobhan’s work is interdisciplinary in that it combines animal welfare, conservation, and tourism studies to address the following research questions: to what extent does wildlife ecotourism promote positive welfare and conservation outcomes for involved species? And furthermore: to what extent does “community” ecotourism operations improve animal lives?