Travel website, TripAdvisor has announced that it will no longer allow users to book activities that involve contact with endangered species or captive wild animals.
The decision comes as public opinion continues to shift regarding shows that use intelligent creatures like whales and dolphins for human entertainment. Recent drops in profits and share prices have led captivity show giant, SeaWorld to end its orca breeding programme and the company has also stopped the feeding of dolphins by visitors at its parks. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey have also stopped using elephants in circus performances.
TripAdvisor’s new policy will take effect in 2017 and its tour subsidiary company, Viator will not sell tickets for swim-with-dolphin trips, elephant rides, or pet-the-tiger photo opportunities.
Visitors to the site will still be able to review these activities on TripAdvisor, but the travel site will now show a paw icon linking to research that will help provide information to the public about the issues around activities like swimming with dolphins.
Interacting with captive dolphins at a marine park or aquarium may seem like fun, but many people don’t realize that dolphins are living a stressful and often dramatically shortened life in captivity. Many have been captured and taken from their families in the wild.
Whilst TripAdvisor’s announcement is a positive step forward, it does not address the issue of promoting trips to see whales and dolphins that are held captive in tiny tanks at facilities like SeaWorld. People will still be able to purchase these trips via Trip Advisor. We have been campaigning hard to stop holiday companies and airlines, like British Airways promoting and selling these kinds of trips. It would be great to see Trip Advisor take action in this regard.
Whales and dolphins are highly intelligent. They can swim up to 100 miles a day, hunting and playing in the wild. In captivity they have very little space and cannot behave naturally. A concrete tank can never replace their ocean home.