British Airways is the latest airline to cut ties with SeaWorld and other attractions that rely on the exploitation of marine animals.
The UK’s second-largest airline will no longer sell tickets to theme parks or attractions that keep wild animals captive, including dolphin tours.
Animal rights group PETA applauded the airline for its decision.
PETA wrote on its website, “By also committing to stop offering tours that include animal rides or interactions, this momentous news positions British Airways as a leader for animal welfare in the travel industry.”
British Airways previously partnered with The David Sheldrick Trust, which operates the most successful orphan-elephant rescue and rehabilitation program in the world.
In 2005, British Airways committed to halting the transportation of animals bound for scientific experimentation. United Airlines, China Southern Airlines, and Qatar Airways made similar moves, citing animal cruelty concerns as their reason for doing so.
British Airways joins a growing number of travel companies ending ties with SeaWorld. The UK’s largest travel provider Thomas Cook stopped selling tickets to SeaWorld due to animal welfare concerns and to satisfy its customers’ desires. More than 90 percent of Thomas Cook’s customers expressed concern about the wellbeing of the orcas kept captive.
Thomas Cook’s chief executive, Peter Fankhauser, said in a statement last year, “I am clear about the kind of business that we want to be. That’s why introduced our animal welfare policy 18 months ago, and that’s why we’ve taken this decision today. And when so many of our customers are so clear in their view, I could not allow our business to ignore them.”
Travel giants United Airlines, Virgin Holidays, AAA Northeast, WestJet, and Air Canada have also ended partnerships with SeaWorld.
What’s Wrong With SeaWorld?
SeaWorld’s popularity is dwindling. The marine mammal park has received backlash for its treatment of animals, especially since the release of the documentary “Blackfish.” PETA points out that SeaWorld’s parks confine marine mammals to “cramped concrete tanks that, to them, are the size of a bathtub.”
According to PETA, at least 41 orcas and dozens of other dolphins have died under SeaWorld’s care, living to an average age of 14. This is decades under their natural lifespan; orcas can live for 50 to 80 years in the wild.