Thomas Cook To Stop Selling Trips To Sea World Because Of Animal Welfare Issues

Selling of trips to animal parks that have killer whales would be stopped by travel giant Thomas Cook.

Concerns about the welfare of the animals were earlier expressed by over 90 per cent of its customers, the company said.

SeaWorld, in Florida, and Loro Parque in Tenerife would be the two parks it will stop selling tickets to as a consequence of the decision.

“This was not a decision we took lightly,” chief executive Peter Fankhauser said as he announced the new policy.

He however acknowledged in a blog post that standards were met by both the parks and both had made enhancements to the way the animals were kept,

But, he said: “From next summer, we will no longer sell any animal attractions that keep orcas in captivity.

“We have actively engaged with a range of animal welfare specialists in the last 18 months, and taken account of the scientific evidence they have provided.

“We have also taken feedback from our customers, more than 90% of whom told us that it was important that their holiday company takes animal welfare seriously.

“And when so many of our customers are so clear in their view, I could not allow our business to ignore them,” Mr Fankhauser said.

“I am clear about the kind of business that we want to be. That’s why we introduced our animal welfare policy 18 months ago, and that’s why we’ve taken this decision today.”

In response, SeaWorld said breeding of killer whales is no longer done by it but the whales that still remains in its possession “will be with us and our visitors for many years”.

The park said that “millions of UK guests” had paid visits to its park and that it would continue to “welcome the public” to them.

“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,” it said in a statement.

There has been intense criticism of keeping and breeding of orcas in captivity ever since a documentary was shown by Netflix in 2013 about a performing killer whale named Tilikum.

Despite the SeaWorld describing Blackfish as “manipulative”, the number of visitors to the theme park had reduced.

An audit of 49 animal parks had been initiated last year by Thomas Cook. The investigation was aimed to ascertain if the parks conformed to its policy on animal welfare which had bene formulated on the basis of the standards that were set by the ABTA (the Association of British Travel Agents). The travel agency had stopped selling tickets of some 29 theme parks that had failed to meet the prescribed standards.

The latest ban was announced on Sunday.

Fankhauser said: “We will work with both [theme parks] over the next 12 months to prepare for our exit…. We will also continue to work ourselves to identify more sustainable alternatives.”

(Adapted from BBC.com)

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