The Fear of Animals

Many outdoor activities are done for entertainment, but for a person with zoophobia, camping, hiking, or taking a trip to the zoo may prove to be very stressful…

Zoophobia is often defined as the irrational fear of animals, and is known as one of the most common phobias developed by humans. Some animals are considered “friendly,” like rabbits, and people normally do not develop a phobia for these animals. However, certain animals are commonly feared, such as spiders, reptiles, and insects. Zoophobia is a relative term, as there are specific phobias for specific animals, such as arachnophobia (the fear of arachnids, most noticeably spiders), ailurophobia (the fear of cats), and katsaridaphobia (the fear of cockroaches). The fear of certain animals is most likely caused by one of two things: One speculated reason is because of our early nomadic lifestyle. When we saw a certain animal that could harm us, we would instinctively try to avoid a confrontation. Even now, the fear that we humans had back then has carried over into the future generations. The other reason may be due to a traumatic experience, usually during a person’s youth. Being bitten by a snake or spider can leave the person terrified of the animal as they grow up.

Common symptoms of zoophobia are:

  • Rapid heart rate
  • Dizziness
  • Sweating and/or nausea
  • Being “frozen” in place
  • A constant idea or image of being attacked by the feared animal
  • A desire to avoid zoos, forests, or other places where the animal may be found

Not all fear towards animals can be labelled as “zoophobia.” It is normal and usually rational to fear a potentially dangerous animal such as a snake. However, fear that is irrational can greatly hinder a person’s daily life. Behavior therapy and cognitive therapy are good options, but desensitization is the most preferred option for overcoming the fear of animals. Exposing the person to their feared animal in a controlled environment helps them to learn that their fear is irrational, and may help to remove most of the symptoms caused by Zoophobia.


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