TripAdvisor Has Banned Dolphin Parks From Selling Tickets On Its Website
Tickets for tourist attractions keeping captive whales and dolphins will be banned from travel site TripAdvisor, the latest animal rights reform from the booking giant.
This week, the website announced it would "no longer sell tickets to, or generate revenue from, any attraction that continues to contribute to the captivity of future generations of cetaceans," including whales, dolphins and porpoises.
"As a result, any commercial facility that either breeds or imports cetaceans for public display will be banned from sale on TripAdvisor and Viator," the website said.
The company made its decision following "extensive consultation" with animal marine biologists, zoologists and conservationists.
It follows a similar move made several years ago where TripAdvisor decided to stop supporting businesses offering elephant rides, swimming with dolphins, or tiger encounters.
"Whales and dolphins do not thrive in limited captive environments, and we hope to see a future where they live as they should -- free and in the wild," commented Dermot Halpin, President, TripAdvisor Experiences and Rentals.
"We believe the current generation of whales and dolphins in captivity should be the last, and we look forward to seeing this position adopted more widely throughout the travel industry."
Such products will be removed from the website by the end of 2019.
Conservation groups and animal welfare experts welcomed the move as an important step forward.
The company quoted Dr. Naomi Rose, of the Animal Welfare Institute, as saying "whales and dolphins cannot thrive in captivity and enlightened tourists no longer tolerate exploiting these intelligent and socially complex marine predators for human entertainment."
The reform will not apply to "seaside sanctuaries" which care for those animals already in captivity. It is believed few Australian facilities will be caught in the changes, but 10 daily understands Sea World -- on Queensland's Gold Coast -- is seeking clarification on whether it will be amongst the businesses to be banned from TripAdvisor's website.
"Sea World is proud of our global leadership in animal rescue, education, research and conservation, and our world-class facilities," a theme park spokesperson told 10 daily.
"Sea World encourages any travel agency considering its position to research the science and conservation-based evidence which supports zoos and aquariums and to reach out if they have any questions."
It is understood Sea World has no plans to abandon its current dolphin breeding program, which may see it fall under TripAdvisor's plan to ban facilities breeding or importing cetaceans for display.
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"Sea World is an accredited zoological institution under the Zoo and Aquarium Association (ZAA) and is also regulated by multiple State and Federal Government agencies. We have a long history of working with marine animals, with over 40 years of experience in animal care, research and rescue," the park spokesperson said.
"The health and wellbeing of our animals is of the utmost priority at Sea World and we have a strong reputation for caring for marine animals. The animals at Sea World live in world-class exhibits, with the dolphins living in some of the largest filtered natural sand bottom lagoon systems in the world."
TripAdvisor's policy change was welcomed by PETA Australia.
"TripAdvisor has officially rejected tourism to marine mammal prisons like Sea World, where sensitive, complex, far-ranging aquatic animals are kept in tiny tanks," said PETA’s Emily Rice.
"TripAdvisor is rightly rejecting animal-exploiting operations, and PETA is calling on tourists and all other travel companies to do the same."
TripAdvisor also quoted Nick Stewart, global head of wildlife at the World Animal Protection group.
"This sends a clear message to other travel companies that we must end this cruel industry once and for all," he said.
"Together we can ensure this is the last generation of dolphins held captive for entertainment."
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Featured image: Getty.