In a resounding victory for marine mammals and an unequivocal statement to companies that profit from their abuse, the world’s largest travel site, TripAdvisor, has announced that it will no longer sell tickets to SeaWorld or any other park that holds cetaceans captive.
In TripAdvisor’s announcement, just posted on its website, the company said:
“Ultimately, we concluded that whales and dolphins do not thrive in captivity. The evidence is both plentiful and compelling. These are highly intelligent animals with complex needs, and their natural environment and wide-ranging roaming habits in the wild cannot be mimicked in inland facilities and small sea pens. … We hope that this generation of whales and dolphins in captivity will be the last.”
In celebration of the news, PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman told media:
“In consultation with PETA, TripAdvisor has once again established itself as an industry leader, evolving its policy to give the best possible advice: Never buy a ticket to any place where orcas, dolphins, or other ocean-going mammals are kept captive for public display. TripAdvisor’s ethical decision moves cetaceans closer to a day when their captivity has ended and they have returned to their ocean homes.”
The new policy applies to both TripAdvisor and its subsidiary Viator and marks the most recent collaboration between the travel company and PETA. In 2016, TripAdvisor announced sweeping changes to protect animals from abuse, including the end of ticket sales for elephant rides, tiger photo ops, and “swim with dolphins” encounters. It has long prohibited cruel and deadly “sports” such as bullfighting and canned hunting. And it published comprehensive animal welfare guidelines for travelers on its website with PETA’s input.
For cetaceans suffering at SeaWorld and other marine mammal abusement parks, the end of captivity can’t come soon enough. Robbed of the opportunity to swim free with their family pods in their ocean homes, these animals can do nothing but swim in endless circles. Out of frustration and boredom, they gnaw on the concrete walls of the tanks, and many sustain serious tooth damage. Parks shuffle these animals around like game pieces, putting incompatible ones and those who don’t speak the same dialect in tanks together, which often results in fighting and injuries. The more than 40 orcas who’ve died at SeaWorld have reached an average age of only 14—well before reaching more than 100 years old, as female orcas can in the wild.
And SeaWorld is still forcibly impregnating bottlenose and Pacific white-sided dolphins (often after drugging them) to make them bear more babies that the parks can use to sell tickets—and commanding them to perform in circus-style shows.
But TripAdvisor and many other ethical companies are making clear that they will not be complicit. British Airways, Virgin Holidays, Thomas Cook, AAA Northeast, and Delta, JetBlue, WestJet, and United airlines as well as many other businesses refuse to sell tickets to or promote SeaWorld.
Let’s keep adding to the list and chipping away at the only thing marine parks care about: the bottom line. When people stop paying to see depressed captive animals crammed into tanks, orcas, dolphins, and other cetaceans will finally get to retire to seaside sanctuaries. Join PETA in calling on Expedia to get with the times and end its promotion of marine mammal abusement parks today.