Holiday giant Thomas Cook, which is Britain’s largest tour operator, will no longer be selling excursions to Loro Parque in Tenerife, Spain or SeaWorld in the United States, where orcas are held captive and used in shows. The decision is a huge victory for animal welfare. Orcas suffer in captivity, and the only way for the commercial exploitation of these highly intelligent and social marine mammals to come to an end is for people to stop buying tickets to watch them perform. The decision by Thomas Cook to no longer promote Loro Parque and SeaWorld is the result of animal welfare evidence and feedback from customers that have expressed their concern with the plight of animals featured in tourist attractions.
Loro Parque in Tenerife, where several orcas and bottlenose dolphins are confined in small tanks and exploited in daily shows during high season, is a popular destination among tourists from Britain. SeaWorld in the United States is also a popular tourist attraction, but at least now tourists won’t be able to purchase tickets through the global travel company Thomas Cook. According to an online source, Thomas Cook sells over 10,000 day trips a year to SeaWorld and has sold 40,000 tickets to Loro Parque this year.
Dolphin Project applauds Thomas Cook’s decision. In 2016, we launched a campaign video, which urged the world’s travel operators to put compassion over profits and stop supporting the commercial exploitation of orcas and other dolphins in shows. It is our hope that Thomas Cook’s decision is only the beginning. Over the years, Thomas Cook has contributed greatly to making dolphin shows and swim-with-dolphins programs popular in some of the world’s tourist hotspots, and the company still promotes captive dolphin swim programs and dolphin shows in Mexico, Cuba, Jamaica and the United Arab Emirates. Sadly, bottlenose dolphins do not receive as much attention as orcas do, although they suffer equally in captivity.
We hereby urge Thomas Cook and all tour operators to cancel all excursions to captive dolphin facilities around the world.