Travel company, Thomas Cook, have announced they’ll stop selling tickets to attractions in Florida and Tenerife which keep killer whales in captivity.
One of the biggest names affected by this decision is SeaWorld – a marine mammal park which continues to divide opinion.
The decision means millions of Thomas Cook customers who want to visit such parks will now have to go elsewhere to purchase tickets.
The decision, which will also affect Loro Parque in Tenerife, has been put into place because of concerns for animal welfare. It’s set to come into action next summer.
It’s expected Thomas Cook will lose a minimum of hundreds of thousands of pounds each year as a direct result of the move, reports the Huffington Post.
Thomas Cook’s Peter Fankhauser said:
This was not a decision we took lightly. We always said we would continue to review our policy, conscious that the more we got into this area, the more we would learn, and conscious also of changing customer sentiment.
We have actively engaged with a range of animal welfare specialists in the last 18 months, and taken account of the scientific evidence they’ve provided.
We’ve also taken feedback from our customers, more than 90 per cent of whom told us it was important their holiday company takes animal welfare seriously.
That has led us to the decision we have taken today.
Both SeaWorld and Loro Parque feature heavily in the documentary Blackfish – a film which documented the lives of captive killer whales, known as orcas, held there.
After the film’s release, visits to SeaWorld dropped dramatically, forcing the company to announce they’d be ending their ‘orca breeding programme’.
However SeaWorld added the film was ‘manipulative’ and claimed the staff at their parks were ‘leading research which will help scientists understand how to protect orcas in the wild’.
The opportunity to see orcas up-close has inspired millions of people, especially children, to care more about marine animals, the oceans and the environment.
Thomas Cook’s plan to stop selling tickets to attractions which keep killer whales in captivity will mean they’re also ending their relationships with a further 29 attractions due to animal welfare concerns.
Last year, former SeaWorld employee, John Hargrove, described the lives of the captive killer whales as ‘a disgrace to humanity’.
John quit his job back in 2012, having believed himself to be ‘complicit in selling the lie to the public’.
Nowadays, he dedicates his time to exposing the cruelties of SeaWorld, where miserable orcas develop diseases and die much younger than they would do in the wild.
According to John, attacks against humans by the captive whales were a regular occurrence:
In the wild, orcas rarely show aggression towards humans. But I lost count of the attacks I witnessed and suffered first-hand.
I’ve been butted against the side of the pool, grabbed by my torso and dragged down. I’m amazed I’m still alive.
Well done Thomas Cook for acknowledging the treatment of animals!
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Joseph Loftus is a Gold Standard NCTJ journalist with four years experience working for international and regional press.
As well as working for UNILAD and LADbible, Joseph has worked as Liverpool Correspondent for Unsigned & Independent Magazine, as well as stints with the Liverpool Echo and Warrington Guardian.