Warwick, C., Pilny, A., Steedman, C. et al. 2023. Mobile zoos and other itinerant animal handling events: Current status and recommendations for future policies. Animals 13(2), 214.

Mobile zoos are events in which non-domesticated (exotic) and domesticated species are transported to venues such as schools, hospitals, parties, and community centres, for the purposes of education, entertainment, or social and therapeutic assistance. We conducted literature searches and surveyed related government agencies regarding existing provisions within laws and policies, number of mobile zoos, and formal guidance issued concerning operation of such events in 74 countries or regions. We also examined governmental and non-governmental guidance standards for mobile zoos, as well as websites for mobile zoo operations, assessed promotional or educational materials for scientific accuracy, and recorded the diversity of species in use. We used the EMODE (Easy, Moderate, Difficult, or Extreme) algorithm, to evaluate identified species associated with mobile zoos for their suitability for keeping. We recorded 14 areas of concern regarding animal biology and public health and safety, and 8 areas of false and misleading content in promotional or educational materials. We identified at least 341 species used for mobile zoos. Mobile zoos are largely unregulated, unmonitored, and uncontrolled, and appear to be increasing. Issues regarding poor animal welfare, public health and safety, and education raise several serious concerns. Using the precautionary principle when empirical evidence was not available, we advise that exotic species should not be used for mobile zoos and similar itinerant events.