Billionaire entrepreneur, Richard Branson, has taken to his blog to share his enthusiasm for an upcoming venture: a sea sanctuary for rescued captive dolphins, which is being established with the help of his company Virgin. The business recently committed to a two-year partnership with the World Cetacean Alliance and will be providing all Virgin Holidays suppliers with Responsible Whale Watching Guidelines.
“Thrilled to see Virgin Holidays teaming up with the National Aquarium in Baltimore to support North America’s first dolphin sea sanctuary,” explained Branson. “Once it is up and running in a few years’ time, this pioneering project will offer a natural and much larger home for the National Aquarium’s captive population of seven bottlenose dolphins – and hopefully set a wonderful example for both marine entertainment and tourism operators who have faced increasing pressure over the welfare of whales and dolphins, collectively known as cetaceans.”
Branson mentioned how this move marks a “major milestone” as the company strives to evoke positive change within the entertainment industry. In 2014, Virgin pledged to cut all ties with suppliers that capture and remove sea mammals from their natural habitats. Today, Branson upholds his belief that The Virgin Pledge was a “simple truth: many consumers no longer consider whale and dolphin shows to be appropriate forms of entertainment, and most would rather enjoy these magnificent creatures in their natural environment.”
“The Pledge followed in-depth consultations with non-profits and activists, scientists, tourism operators, and many organisations running marine parks and aquaria, and we knew it was going to be the first step in a long journey to end the use of captive cetaceans for human entertainment,” Branson noted.
Increasingly, the public is turning away from entertainment that exploits animals kept in cages or tanks, while the popularity of ethical tourism and entertainment grows. Vegan Saudi Arabian prince, Khaled bin Alwaleed, recently announced he will soon open a cruelty-free animated aquarium in the nation’s capital.
Branson’s blog continues to be a mecca for endorsing animal welfare initiatives. He stated earlier this year that he believes “we will look back and be shocked at what was the accepted way we killed animals en masse for food. I think that in the future clean and plant-based meat will become the norm, and in 30 years it is unlikely animals will need to be killed for food anymore.”
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