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Conservation groups call on the travel industry to help build a better post pandemic future for captive whales and dolphins

On the eve of the (virtual) World Travel Market event in London, WDC along with other welfare and conservation organisations have released a report calling on the travel industry to work with them and end support for whale and dolphin captivity shows, not prop up a cruel practice through ticket sales and promotions that shortens the lives of these intelligent creatures.

Whales and dolphins in captivity have been put at further risk as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, when tourism shuts down and facilities risk no longer being able to afford to feed and care for individuals. Close interaction between wildlife and humans in places where health and welfare is compromised also creates a hotspot for zoonotic disease.

In “A vision for whales and dolphins in tourism”, Born Free Foundation, Humane Society International, Whale and Dolphin Conservation, World Animal Protection and World Cetacean Alliance highlight the sad plight of around 3,500 whales, dolphins and porpoises around the world performing in circus-style shows or swimming with programmes, and who suffer mentally  and physically as a result.

Watch WDC’s anti captivity campaigner, Rob Lott talking about the Vision Document and our hopes for a better future for captive whales and dolphins:

As we build back from the global pandemic, the travel industry has a chance to help reshape our relationship with whales and dolphins by supporting responsible whale and dolphin watching in the wild, and ocean sanctuaries where they can live more natural lives – such as the one established in Iceland (in partnership with Whale and Dolphin Conservation), where two beluga whales have experienced their first taste of the ocean since they were captured from the wild when they were very young.

The report reminds the travel industry that whales and dolphins are intelligent and wide-ranging, living in complex societies in the wild. In captivity, it is impossible to replicate their natural environment or family groupings. In confined, artificial conditions, with all activities controlled by their trainers and facility staff, whales and dolphins suffer from stress and stress-related disease, boredom and low life expectancy. Whales and dolphins are still captured from the wild to meet the growing demand for individuals in some countries.

Research conducted in 2019 by World Animal Protection revealed that 80% of visitors to dolphin facilities would prefer to see them in the wild.

In a statement for the coalition, Whale and Dolphin Conservation’s End Captivity Campaigner Cathy Williamson said “For the global tourism industry to now rebuild a more resilient and responsible future, whale and dolphin exploitation for entertainment must end. Tourism can be a force for good that helps make this the last generation of whales and dolphins in captivity”.

You can access the Responsible Tourism programme presented at the World Travel Market London event here
All sessions can be watched live or on catch up on the WTM Virtual Platform. All times are local in the UK.
To be part of the Responsible Tourism  programme  and virtually attend WTM please register here to attend WTM Virtual:

Download the report

A vision for whales and dolphin in tourism

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George Berry

About George Berry

George is a member of WDC's Communications team and website coordinator.

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