Travel company TripAdvisor recently announced that it will no longer sell tickets to any attraction that involves captive whales, dolphins or porpoises.
The travel platform says it has banned all sales of tickets to ‘any commercial facility that either breeds or imports cetaceans for public display.’
This includes the controversial SeaWorld and various other attractions that ‘continue to contribute to the captivity of future generations of cetaceans’.
James Kay, director of corporate communications for TripAdvisor, told The Guardian that in order to continue a business relationship:
“[An attraction] would have to have made a public commitment either to cease all breeding and importation of cetaceans for display with immediate effect or to develop alternative models, such as seaside-sanctuary environments, for the population of captive cetaceans already in their care.”
According to TripAdvisor:
The decision follows an extensive consultation process with a range of experts, including marine biologists, zoologists and conservationists, and considered the scientific evidence and arguments presented from all sides. It continues TripAdvisor’s commitment to improving the welfare of animals globally, particularly animals in tourism.
Dermot Halpin, President, TripAdvisor Experiences and Rentals said:
“The extensive evidence presented to us by the experts was compelling. 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. 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.”
The policy does take into account that ‘while it is possible to prevent future generations of cetaceans from a life of captivity, for those already in captivity, the situation is different.’ Therefore, releasing captive animals is not a realistic option, so TripAdvisor’s new policy also includes various stipulations aimed at protecting the needs, safety and health of those currently in captivity.
Our aim is not only to prevent future generations of whales and dolphins from being raised in captivity, but also to encourage the industry to move towards alternative models, like seaside sanctuaries, that will better provide for the needs of the current captive population.
It is a move that animal welfare experts and conservation groups have welcomed, saying it is an important step forward.