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Holiday giant Thomas Cook stops selling tickets to Seaworld and Loro Parque

Holiday giant Thomas Cook stops selling tickets to Seaworld and Loro Parque

Following a three month ultimatum to improve welfare standards Whale and Dolphin Conservation welcomes Thomas Cook’s decision to stop selling tickets to SeaWorld in the United States and Loro Parque in Tenerife.

After a successful WDC campaign calling on tour operators to fully implement the animal welfare guidelines that the travel association ABTA compiled in 2013, Thomas Cook began to independently audit all its suppliers against these guidelines last year.

SeaWorld and many other facilities continue to flout these ABTA industry standards. In captivity whales and dolphins are held in stark, artificial tanks with no natural stimulation, making it impossible for these complex creatures to exhibit natural behaviour. If any facility were to fully comply with ABTA guidance then it should not hold whales and dolphins in captivity.

Peter Fankhauser, chief executive of Thomas Cook, said in an interview with The Times “We’re conscious of changing customer sentiment. We have engaged with animal welfare specialists in the past 18 months and taken account of the scientific evidence they have provided.”

WDC has been working closely with Thomas Cook, advising them about whales and dolphins in tourism and welcomes Thomas Cook’s move as a huge step in the right direction.

Rob Lott, WDC’s End Captivity Campaigner, says “This is a bold move by Thomas Cook and should be applauded. Thomas Cook is the first major UK tour operator to drop existing facilities where animal welfare issues were causing concern. The decision is based on two factors – the scientific evidence which demonstrates that whales and dolphins are totally unsuitable for life in a tank and the serious concerns the public has about keeping these highly social, intelligent creatures confined just for our entertainment.

Other operators like Virgin holidays have started to take action but more can be done. Some, like British Airways, have ignored WDC’s approaches and see nothing wrong with this practice. Perhaps this move by Thomas Cook may change their stance. Whales and dolphins should be wild and free not performing silly tricks for our entertainment.

Our sincere hope is that other travel companies will now follow Thomas Cook’s lead and take animal welfare concerns more seriously”.