Today, outside ABTA’s Delivering Sustainable Travel conference, we reminded the travel association that keeping animals confined to cramped tanks and forcing them to perform crude tricks is not sustainable: it leads to dramatically shortened life expectancy and a world of suffering for these intelligent, social animals.
What Is ABTA?
ABTA is the leading trade association for the UK travel sector. It rightly advises its members not to promote cruel tourist activities such as bullfighting and elephant rides – but it doesn’t take a stand against dolphin and whale captivity.
Marine Park Cruelty
All animals deserve respect. They aren’t selfie props or circus attractions.
Whales and dolphins are complex, highly intelligent animals who have their own language and culture. In the ocean, orcas can swim up to 150 miles a day. Imagine how they feel being imprisoned in cramped tanks for decades.
At marine parks, orcas are left to languish in concrete tanks about 10,000 times smaller than their natural home range. They may also be drugged with diazepam and other tranquilisers.
— PETA UK (@PETAUK) January 12, 2021
At SeaWorld, 140 dolphins are packed into just seven tanks. Their water is chemically treated, and they’re forced to perform demeaning tricks. Life in a marine park is no life at all for animals.
Because of this, many die prematurely from stress-related issues. Ula, an infant just 2 years old, who was held at Loro Parque in Tenerife, Spain, and Amaya, a 6-year-old orca held at SeaWorld in San Diego, US, both died in 2021 from causes not divulged to the public. Also in 2021, Kiska, an orca held in isolation at MarineLand in Ontario, Canada, was filmed banging her head against the wall of her tank, self-harming behaviour unheard of in nature. More than 40 orcas have died at SeaWorld from causes such as bacterial infections and fractured skulls, and more than 300 other dolphins and whales along with approximately 400 pinnipeds have also died at the parks.
Wake Up, ABTA, the Travel Industry Is Changing
Travel giants Tripadvisor, Virgin Holidays, and British Airways Holidays refuse to promote facilities that imprison orcas, yet ABTA floats behind. Who else condemns orca abuse? See the full list here.
Its inaction gives ABTA members such as TUI justification to continue to profit from suffering by selling tickets to venues that confine sensitive, intelligent animals to cramped concrete tanks.
Take a Stand Against Orca Captivity
The confinement of orcas to cramped tanks is a crisis that must end. It’s high time for ABTA to take action and join the majority of the travel industry by classifying cetacean captivity as unacceptable.
Join PETA’s campaign to urge ABTA to revise its animal welfare guidelines and add visits to facilities that exploit dolphins and whales to its list of unacceptable practices.