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Virgin announcement signals another victory for WDC campaign against captivity shows

Another positive step in WDC’s campaign to end whale and dolphin captivity was taken today with an announcement by Virgin Holidays stating that they will no longer sign up any new attractions that feature captive whales and dolphins for theatrical shows, contact sessions (such as ‘swim-with’ programmes) or other entertainment purposes.

The welcome announcement was made in a statement issued by the holiday company that also committed to working closely with existing partners, including WDC to encourage evolution of their product offering to reflect changing consumer tastes, and discourage the building of new attractions where whales and dolphins will be used for entertainment purposes.

In addition, the Virgin Holidays’ statement has pledged support for the creation of coastal sanctuaries for whales and dolphins, such as the current project being undertaken by WDC and Merlin Entertainments to move three captive beluga whales held in Shanghai and place them in a wild sea sanctuary at a site currently being tested in Europe.

WDC has recently been calling on the travel industry  to help end whale and dolphin captivity, and targeted Sir Richard Branson with a specific campaign seeking an end to Virgin Holidays’ association with SeaWorld and other facilities holding whales and dolphins in captivity. WDC’s campaign film, A letter to Richard Branson”, was watched by 100,000 people on YouTube. Sir Richard listened to our call and shortly after issued a statement instructing Virgin Holidays to stop working with any aquarium or theme park that continued to capture whales and dolphins from the wild or import whales and dolphins taken from the wild after February 2014.

Following WDC’s campaign, Virgin also held an unprecedented multi-stakeholder meeting involving individuals from all sides of the captivity debate and issued a pledge against wild capture, which has been signed by more than 30 facilities holding whales and dolphins in captivity.

This latest step was greeted positively by WDC anti-captivity campaigner, Cathy Williamson, who said:  ‘WDC is heartened to learn that Virgin Holidays will support such initiatives. We are also pleased that Virgin Holidays will not sign up any new attractions featuring captive whales and dolphins. We continue to call on all tour operators to ensure adherence to the Global Welfare Guidance for Animals in Tourism and phase out support for all such facilities.’