Have Plate Will Travel : Animal encounters: is it about the adrenaline rush

Friday, August 11, 2017

Animal encounters: is it about the adrenaline rush


If given the chance, would you feed a lion, swim with a shark or hold an alligator? Are deadly animal encounters about overcoming fears or just an adrenaline rush?

Many people have phobias, fears and just dislikes. Conquering those fears can be difficult. At the same time, some people live for the adrenaline rush. Dangerous activities can appease that thirst for peril. Some zoos, entertainment park and private establishments are adding deadly animal encounters to their activities. But, why are these activities becoming popular?

Recently, SeaWorld announced a new swim with the shark opportunity for guests. Many people were surprised that this activity would be available. Aren’t sharks dangerous? Couldn’t someone get bit by these animals? Let’s be honest. If this activity was extremely, insanely dangerous, SeaWorld wouldn’t offer the activity.

Still, many people were instantly drawn to the activity. Putting aside people who are fans of sharks, this opportunity intrigues most people for two reasons, the adrenaline rush or overcoming their fears. The adrenaline rush is easy to understand. Doing something potentially dangerous can cause a surge in endorphins. That hormonal high can be quite a rush.

Others could be drawn to these animal encounters to overcome their fears. While I’m not a medical expert, I have been told that one of the best ways to overcome fear is to face the fear directly. In this SeaWorld example, swimming in a shark tank could be their way of facing galeophobia, the fear of sharks.

The SeaWorld swimming with the sharks encounter isn’t the only theme park with this type of activity. A quick drive around Orlando shows several places where you can encounter dangerous snakes, gators and other scary animals. Gatorland offers a trainer for the day option, where you take care of the gators, or Gator Night Shine. Gator Night Shine as guests walk above the breading marsh at night, hot dogs included for feeding.

For people who fear cats, big cats rather than the domestic ones, several zoos and rescues offer animal encounters. Dade City’s Wild Things offers big cat feedings. The Tiger Safari in Oklahoma has several exotic animal encounters including lion cubs, tiger cubs and a variety of snakes. Many zoos throughout the U.S. offer animal encounters and these encounters are becoming more popular.

Regardless of the reason why people choose to participate in these experiences, the animal encounters are increasing. These experiences are often met with disdain. The zoo, or other park, has to balance the educational factor with the entertaining experience factor.

As stated before, if the activity was extremely dangerous, the park wouldn’t allow it. No insurance carrier would cover the establishment. The “fear” comes from the perception of danger. Just like the fastest roller coasters, the activity looks scary, but it is predominately safe.

Also, the parks should not harm the animals. Zoos, and some parks, are intended to be educational. Causing harm to the animals they care for isn’t smart. While all the danger can’t ever be removed, people are interacting with wild animals, the experience is controlled.

Based on the people’s reactions, animal encounters, especially deadly animal encounters, will continue to be offered. No matter the reasoning for participating in these activities, either facing fears or the adrenaline rush, people are lining up to participate. But, would you?

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