A change.org petition set up by WDC supporter, Kathleen Haase, calling on British Airways to stop selling trips to SeaWorld now has over 100,000 signatures and has prompted the following response from British Airways:
In common with many airlines and travel companies in the UK, we offer services intended to make the booking of holiday experiences more convenient for members of the public who wish to visit SeaWorld attractions.
We offer similar arrangements in regard to theme parks and other places of interest at many destinations on our global network. Whether members of the public choose to make use of these arrangements is entirely up to them.
We note the concerns you have raised in relations to animal welfare. We feel sure you will be aware that regulation of animal welfare at SeaWorld is a matter for the relevant federal and state authorities in the US.
We have no reason not to have confidence in the expertise of these authorities in what is a highly specialised field far removed from the world of aviation.
Unfortunately, by booking through a trusted company like BA and without the necessary information to make an informed decision, many holidaymakers will continue to patronise SeaWorld and other facilities holding whales and dolphins in captivity.
Increasing numbers of holidaymakers are informed about the issues, though. A recent UK survey found 86% of tourists would not wish to visit facilities holding captive whales and dolphins as part of their holiday. US opinion is also turning against orca captivity.
Furthermore, US animal welfare legislation for marine mammals in captivity is woefully out of date and provides very little protection for captive whales and dolphins held in SeaWorld and other facilities. It also falls way behind standards in other countries such as Brazil (where there are no captive whales and dolphins) and Italy. WDC welcomes the recent passing of an amendment in the US Congress which will finally force the US authorities to update this legislation.
Unfortunately for BA, in this age of corporate responsibility, which has resulted in ABTA guidance on animal tourism and Virgin examining its relationship with facilities holding captive whales and dolphins, it can no longer hide behind its expertise in aviation.