Dear Mr Fankhauser and Board of Directors,
Re: Thomas Cook Group and SeaWorld
I am writing on behalf of Action for Dolphins (‘AFD’), a not-for-profit animal welfare organisation, to request that Thomas Cook Group cease promoting and selling tickets to SeaWorld Orlando.
It is admirable that Thomas Cook Group conducts animal welfare checks for the attractions it sells tickets to, and we commend your recent decision to discontinue promotion of SeaWorld Orlando following its failure to pass one of these assessments.
We understand Thomas Cook Group will decide in the coming months whether to discontinue sales to SeaWorld Orlando permanently, and we hope that the below information will be useful in making that decision.
Many corporate groups such as Virgin, TripAdvisor and Instagram have distanced themselves from the animal entertainment industry recently, and we urge the Thomas Cook Group to now do the same.
Public opinion on dolphin captivity
Public opinion in the Thomas Cook Group’s home country has long been against dolphin captivity, and dolphin captivity was phased out entirely in the United Kingdom in the 1990s.
A recent independent poll shows that the vast majority of the UK public is opposed to cetacean captivity.
Furthermore, recent results from a survey of 2,050 people in the UK showed that dolphin shows are no longer on the travel bucket list of the average British tourist.
These results reflect global trends across the vast majority of OECD nations. For example, SeaWorld reported significantly lower attendance rates this financial year, with 732,000 fewer people visiting than the same time last year.
Polling from the United States, where SeaWorld Orlando keeps orcas, shows 75% of Americans oppose orca captivity.
A vast body of scientific literature suggests captive dolphins and whales suffer high levels of disease, stress and mortality.
The needs of these migratory mammals – which evolved to thrive in vast oceans travelling hundreds of kilometres per day – simply cannot be met in confined artificial pools. World-renowned animal behaviouralist Dame Jane Goodall is among the many scientists and experts who have voiced their opposition to dolphin and whale captivity on ethical grounds.
Political opposition to dolphin captivity
Dolphin captivity has already been banned, or legislative reform to ban cetacean captivity is already underway, in a growing number of countries including the UK, Finland, Switzerland, Hungary, Croatia, Canada, India, and the US.
Dolphin captivity has also recently been banned in Barcelona and Mexico City, and in 2017 multiple political parties announced their intention to bring a bill with the potential to end dolphin captivity in NSW, Australia.
In light of Sea World’s failure in the Thomas Cook Group’s own animal welfare assessment, Action for Dolphins respectfully requests that the Thomas Cook Group permanently discontinues all sales to SeaWorld Orlando on an immediate basis.
As demonstrated, this decision would be in alignment with growing public and political opposition to keeping whales and dolphins in captivity.
Thank you very much for considering our request and please don’t hesitate to contact me if you would like to discuss any of these concerns.
CEO | Action for Dolphins