Virgin Holidays will no longer sell tickets to SeaWorld amid concerns over animal welfare.
Virgin Holidays has confirmed that it will cease ticket sales to SeaWorld as part of its commitment to end relationships with attractions that keep whales and dolphins in captivity amid animal welfare concerns.
SeaWorld has been increasingly coming under fire and facing high levels of condemnation for animal cruelty ever since the expository documentary Blackfish was released in 2013, with animal welfare campaigners and celebrities alike slamming the parks.
Now Virgin Holidays is joining the fight as Virgin Group, which is headed by Sir Richard Branson, is encouraging customers to ‘see these creatures in the wild’ instead of inside small, enclosed tanks.
According to Virgin Group, the move will result in over 20,000 tickets being removed from sale, however, all existing bookings will be honoured.
The company has been removing attractions featuring captive cetaceans (which includes whales, dolphins, and porpoises) from its brochure and website over the past year, and instead is focusing on working with partners to help them improve their treatment of the animals in their care.
In a statement, Managing director of Virgin Holidays Joe Thompson said: “We want to actively support this direction by encouraging more responsible wild watching, which puts animal welfare at the heart of things, meaning our customers get to experience these amazing animals with peace of mind and future generations can enjoy these wonderful experiences too.”
Despite tens of thousands of ticket sales to both locations per year, Thomas Cook made the decision to axe all trips to SeaWorld parks.
The decision was a result of customer feedback and communication with animal welfare specialists. Thomas Cook CEO Peter Fankhauser said: ‘We have engaged with a range of animal welfare specialists and taken account of the scientific evidence they have provided. We have also taken feedback from our customers, more than 90 percent of whom said it was important that their holiday company takes animal welfare seriously.’