Thomas Cook, one of the world’s leading travel companies, has officially banned the sale of excursions in some locations that involve swimming with dolphins.
It commissioned an audit carried out by Global Spirit to investigate animal welfare in attractions previously promoted by the travel company. Twenty-five animal attractions programmes were checked and none of them met internationally accepted animal welfare standards.
In a statement released on the Thomas Cook website, Chief Executive Peter Fankhouse said: ‘If an animal attraction is found not to be fully compliant with the ABTA Global Welfare Guidance for Animals in Tourism, Thomas Cook won’t sell it.’
He added that he ‘was surprised and disappointed that not one of the 25 sites audited last year met all of the standards in the ABTA guidance.’
Of those 25 sites – some of which also include elephant rides in Thailand, nine have improved their standards, but 16 have now been blacklisted, including Ocean World in the Dominican Republic and Sealanya in Turkey, both of which offer swimming with dolphins.
Although Thomas Cook has not released the details as to why each attraction failed the inspection, Ocean World was inspected in 2009 by the World Society for the Protection of Animals and found to be severely sub-standard in its approach to animal welfare. Dolphins were being held in shallow tanks surrounded by as many as 20 tourists at a time where they could pet and ‘shake hands’ with the animals.
From this year forward, Thomas Cook has promised to conduct 50 audits annually through their partnership with Global Spirit and the Born Free Foundations, stating that ‘any animal attraction we offer could be audited at any time.’
The full statement from Thomas Cook can be read here.
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