Travel company Expedia has stopped selling tickets to facilities offering shows or interactions with dolphins and whales.
The company announced the change on social media, stating: “We recently adjusted our animal welfare policy. As a result, attractions and activities involving performances or interactions with dolphins and other cetaceans will no longer be available on our sites.
The company added on its website that “seaside sanctuaries that provide captive animals with a permanent seaside living environment are permitted if they are accredited and do not exhibit interactions or performances.”
The policy change means that Expedia will stop selling tickets for SeaWorld and any “swim with dolphins” encounters, according to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
PETA says the group has met and lobbied Expedia for five years to change the policy. The animal rights group argues that during swimming encounters, animals are confined to small tanks or lagoons where they must swim in circles. Some have had health problems due to the stress of captivity.
The Humane Society of the United States points out that when animals are captured from the wild, not only are these individuals stressed, but it is not known what impact their removal could have on the pod left behind.
A few years after the 2013 documentary “Blackfish” aired, showing the cruel treatment of orcas at SeaWorld, public criticism of the park’s spread.
A few years later, SeaWorld ended his killer whale farm program and gradually phased out orc performance shows and replaced them with more educational programs.
According to Whale and Dolphin Conservation, at least 43 orcas have died at SeaWorld.
The policy change is expected to take effect in early 2022, according to a report from The Guardian. “Whenever we update our animal welfare policies, we give our suppliers 30 days to comply with the updated policy or deal with deletion from the site,” Expedia said Online.
Company policy also does not allow activities involving intentional physical contact with wild and exotic animals, including elephants, felines, bears, reptiles and primates. It does not sell tickets to exotic pet cafes, restaurants, and traveling zoos that feature exotic animals.
The recent change follows similar decisions by TripAdvisor in 2019 that it would not sell tickets for most activities where tourists come into physical contact with wildlife or where whales and dolphins are forced to perform. There are exceptions to the policy which include touch pool experiences for educational purposes and facilities where all captive cetaceans have a permanent seaside living environment.
The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) issued a statement in response to the announcement. It included:
“They appear to mistakenly believe their action will prevent people from visiting animal attractions. All the evidence is to the contrary. Expedia’s decision will not prevent animal lovers from purchasing experiences that involve interactions with animals. It will just give consumers less information on which to make responsible choices. “