(KGTV) - Online travel site TripAdvisor will no longer sell tickets to attractions that breed or buy dolphins and whales, including SeaWorld, company officials said Wednesday.
TripAdvisor and its subsidiary Viator planned to phase out the tickets over the next few months. The new policy will not apply to seaside sanctuaries that provide care to cetaceans already in captivity, TripAdvisor officials said.
“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,” said TripAdvisor Experiences and Rentals president Dermot Halpin.
“TripAdvisor is on the right side of history,” said Dr. Naomi Rose, Marine Mammal Scientist, Animal Welfare Institute, in a release issued by the travel company. “Whales and dolphins cannot thrive in captivity and enlightened tourists no longer tolerate exploiting these intelligent and socially complex marine predators for human entertainment.”
SeaWorld issued a statement in response to TripAdvisor’s decision.
“We are disappointed by TripAdvisor’s new position that ignores the educational value and conservation mission of professionally accredited zoos and aquariums. SeaWorld believes deeply in the mission of these organizations. As a member of World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA), certified by American Humane, and accredited by Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) and Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums (AMMPA), as well as numerous other certifications and accreditations from leading accrediting bodies, SeaWorld maintains the highest standards of care for all animals, including cetaceans. And regardless of TripAdvisor’s position, SeaWorld will continue to advance education and animal conservation efforts along with our millions of supporters, professional scientists and other science based organizations around the world.” said Dr. Chris Dold, SeaWorld’s Chief Zoological Officer.
SeaWorld officials also referred to the support of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), a nonprofit accrediting body active in 12 countries.
“TripAdvisor is letting voices of a radical minority dictate corporate policy, rather than listening to the voices and preferences of their customers,” said AZA president Dan Ashe. “Revenue generated at AZA facilities that care for dolphins and whales directly supports millions of dollars in animal welfare research, global conservation efforts, and critical rescue and rehabilitation activities, not the capture of cetaceans from the wild.”
TripAdvisor created an animal welfare policy in 2016, banning ticket sales for experiences putting travelers into physical contact with captive wild animals, such as elephant rides. In 2018, the policy also expanded to what TripAdvisor described as “demeaning animal shows and performances.”