Postprint of: Weiler, E, Ham, SH & Smith, LDG 2011, 'The impacts of profound wildlife experiences', Anthrozoos, vol. 24, no. 1, pp. 51-64.
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Profound experiences with wildlife have been identified as potential triggers for changing the way people feel and act towards wildlife. However, there has been little systematic research into the impacts of these experiences on the lives of those who experience them. This qualitative study investigated the types and strength of impact associated with profound wildlife experiences. A rigorous process of analysis of in-depth interviews with individuals who self-identified as having had profound wildlife experiences revealed common themes about how they perceived their experience to have impacted their feelings and actions toward the species experienced. Findings ranged from experiences perceived to have had little or no impact to having been a watershed or pivotal moment in their lives. In this latter category, the experience was perceived by interviewees to have led to marked attitudinal impact and behavioral change. It is suggested that there are several potential beneficiaries of profound wildlife experiences, including the human participants themselves, wildlife tourism operators, and the species concerned. Several avenues for future research are outlined.