TripAdvisor has announced it will no longer sell tickets to US marine park SeaWorld after updating its animal welfare policy.
After Virgin Holidays and British Airways Holidays ended their relationship with SeaWorld over new animal welfare policies, TripAdvisor, along with its subsidiary Viator, has followed suit.
TripAdvisor will no longer promote the theme park which holds sea animals captive or forcibly trains them for entertainment purposes.
The tour operator said it would focus on promoting more natural wildlife encounters while severing ties with SeaWorld – which has locations in Florida, Texas and California, Loro Parque in Spain, Discovery Cove, and the Georgia Aquarium.
TripAdvisor’s CEO Stephen Kaufer said the new policy aimed to improve the company’s animal rights standards.
“At the same time, we want to celebrate those destinations and attractions that are leaders in caring for animals and those in the tourism industry who help further the cause of animal welfare, conservation and the preservation of endangered species,” he said.
The decision is an update to the brand’s 2016 animal welfare policy, which banned sales of tickets for excursions where tourists could ride animals or come into physical contact with captive wild animals such as tiger petting or swimming with dolphins, as well as animal shows and performances.
The travel site confirmed it would end commercial relationships with facilities that do not have, or are not in the process of developing, alternative environments for captive aquatic animals, which includes whales, dolphins and porpoises.
Dermot Halpin, TripAdvisor’ President of Experiences and Rentals, issued a statement: “Our aim is not only to prevent future generations of whales and dolphins from being raised in captivity, but also to encourage the industry to move towards alternative models, like seaside sanctuaries, that will better provide for the needs of the current captive population.”
The policy will be in effect by the end of the year. However, the policy will not apply to sea life sanctuaries that care for mammals already in captivity.
“They would have to have made a public commitment either to cease all breeding and importation of cetaceans for display with immediate effect or to develop alternative models, such as seaside-sanctuary environments, for the population of captive cetaceans already in their care,” said James Kay, director of corporate communications for TripAdvisor.
Animal welfare organizations welcomed the news and praised TripAdvisor for taking the right step.
Dr Naomi Rose, a marine mammal scientist at the Animal Welfare Institute said: “Whales and dolphins cannot thrive in captivity and enlightened tourists no longer tolerate exploiting these intelligent and socially complex marine predators for human entertainment.
“TripAdvisor is on the right side of history.”
What else can the tourism industry do to stop cruelty to animals? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!
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