In a hugely positive move, the tourism company Thomas Cook announced it will no longer sell tickets to facilities that keep orcas captive – including SeaWorld Orlando and Loro Parque in Tenerife.
According to Peter Fankhauser, CEO of Thomas Cook Group, the company conducted an extensive audit over the last 18 months, engaging with “a range of animal welfare specialists” and collecting feedback from their customers. Fankhauser noted that over 90% of respondents indicated their support for taking animal welfare seriously.
The move is the latest in what can be thought of as the Blackfish effect – the growing awareness that orcas suffer terribly in captivity. This effect is responsible for SeaWorld’s commitment to stop breeding orcas and to phase out their display throughout its parks, and for the Vancouver Aquarium to end their displays of captive cetaceans altogether.
Unfortunately, Thomas Cook will continue to sell tickets to facilities that use and abuse cetaceans – such as dolphins and beluga whales – despite the fact that these beings suffer just as much as orcas in captivity.
While there is still much to be done on behalf of captive animals everywhere, Thomas Cook has taken a very big step in the right direction – and it is thanks, in large part, to everyone who signed petitions and contacted Thomas Cook to demand they take animal welfare seriously.
Photo credit Ken Wang / Flickr Creative Commons.