This major travel company just announced they would stop selling tickets to SeaWorld
Since the release of Blackfish in 2013, worldwide opinions on SeaWorld changed. The Netflix documentary profiled an orca whale called Tilikum, who was responsible for the death of three humans during his time in captivity. Blackfish suggested that killer whales become more aggressive toward humans and each other when held in captivity, and it came out three years after Tilikum pulled a trainer into the water and held her under, killing her during a live performance to a huge audience in Orlando.
In 2016, SeaWorld vowed to end their orca breeding program and entertainment shows involving killer whales at the tourist attraction. Tilikum died early last year due to a bacterial infection. A few months later, a polar bear unexpectedly died in San Diego's SeaWorld just weeks after it's long-term companion was moved to a zoo.
In relation to the bad press and the mounting concern for animal welfare at the tourist site, a major travel company has just vowed to stop selling tickets to SeaWorld. Thomas Cook, a leading British group tour operator and airline, released a statement to confirm they will stop selling tickets to attractions to SeaWorld, as well as to Loro Parque, another amusement park keeping killer whales in captivity in Tenerife.
"This was not a decision we took lightly," CEO Peter Fankhauser said in a statement. "We always said that we would continue to review our policy, conscious that the more we got into this area, the more we would learn, and conscious also of changing customer sentiment.
“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.
“That has led us to the decision we have taken today.”
It may cost the company hundreds of thousands in losses and will mean that customers will need to purchase tickets for the parks via other means, if they do desire to visit.
Though Fankhauser said both SeaWorld and Loro Parque “passed our audit process and made improvements to the way they treat animals”, they ultimately decided to end business relations with the attractions, as well as 29 other companies over animal welfare issues.
In response to the announcement, a representative for SeaWorld told Huffington Post: “Millions of UK 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.”
The ban will come into force next summer and has the potential to set an example for other travel companies to follow suit.