British tour operator Thomas Cook made the announcement that it will stop selling tickets for attractions with captive killer whales such as SeaWorld in Florida (USA) and Loro Park in Tenerife (Spain).
Thomas Cook chief executive Peter Fankhauser explained that the decision was made after consulting with animal welfare specialists over the past year.
According to Newsweek, the CEO, said on the Thomas Cook’s website: “We have taken feedback from our customers, more than 90 percent of whom told us that it was important that their holiday company takes animal welfare seriously.”
The director points out that both attractions have passed strict audits on the welfare of the animals, but nevertheless, the agency will stop booking trips to their customers under their new internal regulations.
He commended “the work done” by these companies in order to improve the conditions of the species. Audits conducted at 49 animal attractions concluded that 29 did not meet the minimum standards required by the British Association of Travel Operators (ABTA), while the remaining 20 had made the necessary progress.
SeaWorld and Loro Parque were in this second category, but the company has decided in spite of everything to rescind its relationship because of the inclusion of captive killer whales as part of the entertainment. According to Fankhauser, Thomas Cook “will continue working to identify more sustainable alternatives”.
A spokesperson for SeaWorld released a statement to Newsweek, saying that “Millions of U.K. guests have visited our parks for fun, education, and to help contribute to the protection of marine animals and their habitats. They have seen first-hand the incredible care we provide all of our animals and learned about how we are protecting and saving species in the wild. Although we have ended breeding for orcas, the current animals in our care will be with us and our visitors for many years to come. We will continue to welcome the public into our parks for the unmatched experiences we create every day.”
Meanwhile, animal welfare group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) was rejoiced by the decision. “This momentous victory means that Thomas Cook has now become the world-leading travel provider for animal welfare that it had claimed to be. If other travel providers hope to maintain a shred of credibility with animal-loving British holidaymakers, they must follow its lead,” PETA manager of special projects, Elisa Allen, said to Agence France Presse.
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