Fancy having tea with a ‘naughty sheep’? New Airbnb trips to focus on animals

Airbnb, best known for its accommodation sharing service, says there will be strict rules on interacting with the animals

Anyone for tea with “naughty sheep” of Loch Lomond? Photograph: AirBnB

Fancy spending your holidays running with the wild dogs of Chernobyl or on a skateboard with a bulldog? Would you like to be covered in bees or go on a safari with a parrot? In Brooklyn?

Well unlikely as it may sound, Airbnb now has you covered.

The one-time accommodation-only platform has been spreading its wings at some speed in recent years through the addition of experiential elements such as guided tours and home cooked meals to its holiday options.

Today it goes all Dr Doolittle as it launches a spin-off, which places animals at the centre of things.

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Among the packages on offer via its new platform is the opportunity to have tea with "naughty sheep" close to Loch Lomond, or a "Meet the Dogs of Chernobyl" package in Slavutych, Ukraine. It is offering animal loving intrepid adventures the chance to discover Arctic Foxes in Iceland and go on a Wild Brooklyn Parrot Safari in New York or an actual Safari with a Maasai guide in Kenya.

Arctic Fox

All told the platform already has 1,000 experiences co-hosted by more than 300 species “and their human advocates” to allow “even busy urbanites [to] reconnect with the natural world through hiking with rescue dogs, chilling out with alpacas or cuddling cows”.

Guests will be allowed to meet the animals in places that “allow for gentle observation and bring a sense of connection far beyond animal selfies or performances”.

For anyone concerned that the animals are going to be used by the tech giant for profit, it has been quick to assure would be animal holiday makers that that is not the case.

Discover the dogs of Chernobyl. Photograph: AirBnB

It says its Animal Experiences “are underpinned by a new, industry-leading animal welfare policy created in collaboration with World Animal Protection” and it says the policy has been “designed to ensure their wellbeing at all times”.

The experiences are hosted by caring experts as an “antidote to typical tourist attractions that are notorious for ethical concerns. You will never find an Airbnb Experience where you can kiss a dolphin or ride an elephant,” the company has said.

Animal experiences include chilling out with alpacas. File photograph: Oli Scarf/ AFP/Getty

The company has gone a step further and said that it will cement its “commitment to animals in the long-term by directing all proceeds from bookings to nonprofits”.

It says the move will support causes such as conservation, animal rescue, and veterinary care.

"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 wellbeing," 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.”

Under its strict rules there will be no direct contact with wild animals including, but not limited to, petting, feeding, or riding animals.

With regard to working animals, there will be a maximum of one rider and the animals will never be allowed to carry more than 20 per cent of the animal’s weight and they are never to be overworked.

Elephant rides, big cat interactions, illegal wildlife trade, sporting events such as canned and trophy hunting, animals performing for entertainment will be completely forbidden no wild animals will be used as selfie props.