5th July 2023

This week Thomas Cook Holidays announced that it has removed the sale of any attraction with captive cetaceans including dolphins, orcas or whales. This is part of a new animal welfare policy which states “ We are clear that based on the evidence from leading organisations that we won’t sell attractions with captive orcas (killer whales) or cetaceans (e.g. dolphins). There are many excellent ways to experience these animals in their natural habitats and we know that our customers love doing so.” Freedom for Animals welcomes this step forward towards our goal of seeing a permanent end to the exploitation of captive animals for entertainment and tourism.

This move is only the latest in a series of progressive steps from the travel agent. In 2017 we reported on their decision to end the sale of select animal attractions after a report revealed that they do not meet official welfare standards. The following year the business removed attractions with captive orcas. Since those decisions the business has collapsed and been reborn, but the ethical trajectory has been maintained and now they are taking a further positive step in extending that mercy to other cetaceans in an official policy that they will not sell “any attraction that has captive orcas (aka killer whales) and other dolphins or whales”. Sadly, Thomas Cook, like many travel agents and tour operators, still has some way to go in creating a fully inclusive animal welfare policy that protects all animals from exploitation. We hope to see them continue to lead the way by removing the likes of horse, camel, and donkey riding, as well as zoos, aquariums, and safari parks. No animal should be held prisoner for the entertainment of tourists.

In welcoming this step forward by Thomas Cook, we appeal to the rest of the tourism and entertainment industry to re-examine their own policies. Particularly Virgin Experience Days, a retailer that we are currently appealing to remove their ‘zookeeper’ offering from their site - an area of their business that offers captive animals to visitors who will pay a premium to hold, touch, and interact with animals against their will. Chief executive of Thomas Cook, Alan French, said about their decision, “Our customers care about these issues, and we are proud to be matching those sentiments. It has been an easy decision to make.” If it is easy for Thomas Cook then why is it so difficult for Virgin Experience Days?

Become a Freedom Champion today and help us in our fight to end the abuse and exploitation of all captive wild animals!