Lockdown never ends for captive whales and dolphins, thanks to holiday providers like TUI.
In April 2022, we met with TUI to present our petition and 20,000 signatures to explore how we can help them become a positive force for whales and dolphins.
What is the problem?
After more than a year of lockdowns, we know what it feels like to have our world shrink and our freedom taken away.
But whales and dolphins are still captured from the wild, kept in tanks that are far too small for their needs, and made to perform for our entertainment.
Thanks to your support we have already persuaded Virgin Holidays, British Airways, TripAdvisor and others to stop supporting this cruelty.
We need to persuade TUI to join them.
Meet some of the real whales and dolphins held at 'attractions' supported by TUI
Meet Lolita, also known as Tokitae (orca)
Captured: 8th August 1970
Age at capture: approximately 4 years old
Location: Miami Seaquarium, USA
Lolita is six metres long, existing in a tank that is six metres deep at its deepest point and just 24 metres long at its longest. She's been there for 51 years. The tank is so small, it’s illegal by US government regulations, yet it’s been her entire world for more than half a century. In the wild, she’d cover 100 miles or more a day playing, socialising, looking for food and resting. Lolita's family are members of the critically endangered Southern Residents, and her presumed mother is still alive and free off the west coast of the US and Canada. We think she’s over 90 years old and she’s probably covered around 3.5 million miles in her lifetime.
Meet Morgan (orca)
Taken into human care: 23rd June 2010
Age when taken into human care: Between 3 and 5 years old
Location: Loro Parque, Tenerife, Canary Islands
Morgan was found alone and emaciated in 2010 and was rescued. The plan was to nurse her back to health and release her. But she was taken to Loro Parque in 2011 and she has been there ever since. A 2012 report by the Free Morgan Foundation revealed she had been attacked by other orcas, bore wounds from self-mutilation and had ground her teeth down by chewing on concrete bars in frustration. She was made pregnant and tragically her baby, Ula, died suddenly a few weeks before her third birthday in August 2021. How many more deaths will it take before people accept that captivity is wrong and isn’t working?
Meet Nanuq (beluga)
Age: 32 when he died
Years in captivity: 25
Location: SeaWorld Orlando, USA
In 1990, when Nanuq was just six years old, he was torn away from his home waters in Manitoba, Canada. He never saw his family again. He survived 25 years in captivity, sentenced to a stress-filled, lonely existence in concrete pools. Nanuq was used in an intensive artificial insemination experiment at SeaWorld. He was transferred between five different SeaWorld facilities and removed from the water around 42 times for sperm samples. He fathered 13 babies but six died at birth or as newborns. SeaWorld has held belugas since 1975 yet only nine babies have ever survived.
Meet Makaiko (bottlenose dolphin)
Years in captivity: 10
Location: Died at Dolphin Discovery, Mexico
Makaiko was captured in the brutal Taiji dolphin hunt in Japan then taken to Mexico where he was forced to entertain tourists. After his tank mates died he was alone. He had to spend his days dragging people along as they held his fins, pushing them with his nose and jumping over them – person after person, hour after after hour. One day Makaiko got tangled up in nets that had been put down after a storm. Nobody noticed and when, no matter how hard he struggled, he couldn’t get to the surface to breathe, he suffocated to death in the venue where he was exploited to entertain holidaymakers.
Meet Corky (orca)
Captured: 11th December 1969
Age at capture: approximately 3 years old
Location: SeaWorld, San Diego, USA
Corky has been in captivity longer than any other whale or dolphin. She was taken from her family at a very young age. She’s been pregnant seven times and given birth four times but only two of her babies survived. The other two starved to death because the shape of the pool was not suitable for her to nurse them properly. Corky is from the Northern Resident population of orcas and she has a large family, including a brother and sister, living wild and free in the waters of British Columbia, Canada.
Meet Tabo (bottlenose dolphin)
Born: 15th June 1993 in captivity
Location: Zoomarine, Algarve, Portugal
Tabo is the dolphin fourth from right in the photo. He is held with 27 other dolphins – more than at any other facility in the EU. As well as having to perform in shows, Tabo is part of the ‘Dolphin Emotions’ experience where adults and children as young as six years old are encouraged to kiss and cuddle him. Imagine being groped and fondled by stranger after stranger, day after day, unable to say ‘no’ or find somewhere to hide.
Meet Keto (orca)
Born: 17th June 1995 in captivity
Location: Loro Parque, Tenerife, Canary Islands
Keto has been held by five different parks during his life. In 2009, he killed his trainer Alexis Martinez in a terrible incident that his family believes was initially covered up. To our knowledge, no wild orca has ever killed a human. The film Blackfish exposes what goes on behind the scenes at these theme parks and how confinement can have such a devastating effect on an orca’s mental health that they can be driven to kill a human. His dorsal fin is collapsed - another phenomenon rarely seen in the wild.
Meet Helen (Pacific white-sided dolphin)
Age: 33 when she died in 2022
Years in captivity: 26
Location: Died at SeaWorld, San Antonio, USA
Helen was born wild and free in the waters off Japan. She died at SeaWorld in Texas in 2022, having been moved there from Vancouver Aquarium when Canada outlawed whale and dolphin captivity. She was the only one left after her last tank mate, a false killer whale named Chester, died of what’s thought to have been a bacterial disease. We don't think TUI sells tickets to SeaWorld in Texas but they do support other SeaWorld parks.
Meet Skyla (orca)
Age: 17 when she died
Years in captivity: 17 - her whole life
Location: Died in 2021 at Loro Parque, Tenerife, Canary Islands
Skyla’s story is a tragically short one. She was born at SeaWorld, Orlando in 2004 and separated from her mother, Kalina and taken to Loro Parque on Tenerife when she was only two years old. Her father was Tilikum, the orca at the heart of the the film Blackfish, so she was part Icelandic and part Southern Resident. She was taken to Loro Parque with three other young SeaWorld orcas: Keto, Tekoa and Kohana. They had no older female to look up to and learn from. She was used in shows until she died suddenly at just 17.
Find out more about our campaign
Click/tap on the Dive Deeper button below
Lockdown never ends for captive whales and dolphins
There are around 3,600 whales, dolphins and porpoises in captivity worldwide, This includes more than 3,000 dolphins and around 366 belugas and 57 orcas. Many of these individuals have families in the wild while others have been bred in captivity and have never even seen the sea.
1. Captivity is cruel, with severe consequences for individual's health
Whales and dolphins continue to be captured from the wild and kept in tanks that are far too small for their needs where they are made to perform for our entertainment. But they are inherently social creatures and like us, their mental health suffers when they are denied social contact with other individuals.
We surveyed the UK public* and found that 62% of people think it’s unacceptable to keep whales and dolphins in tanks and less than a third (31%) think that watching captive whales and dolphins is good entertainment.
The power is in our hands. We have the choice say no to trips to these facilities when they are offered as part of a holiday package.
2. We know what it’s like to feel trapped in our own homes.
In response to our survey, 74% of people said they are happy to be gaining more freedom now that lockdown is easing and 44% said they felt more empathy for captive whales and dolphins now they have experienced lockdown.
Why should dolphins, porpoises and whales suffer lockdown for their entire lives, in the name of human entertainment?
3. Holiday companies like TUI perpetuate the cruelty of captivity.
With your support, we have campaigned successfully to persuade travel giants such as Virgin Holidays, British Airways and TripAdvisor to cut their ties with whale and dolphin captivity. But TUI, the world's biggest tour operator, continues to help keep the cruel industry alive.
Over a quarter (28%) of people who have visited a facility that displays captive whales and dolphins in the past ten years said they had done so because it was recommended to them by a holiday company or travel rep, or on a cruise.
Join us in putting pressure on TUI to pledge to only work with attractions that commit to our phase-out model of no performances, no breeding, no captures, no trade, and support for sanctuaries.
#LockdownNever Ends for whales and dolphins in captivity. It’s time to end this cruel practice. Let’s make this generation of captive whales and dolphins the last.
Share the campaign and use the hashtag #LockdownNeverEnds to show your support for ending captivity.
*a nationally representative sample of 2,000 people took part in the survey carried out by OnePoll on behalf of WDC.
The story so far...
We hand over our petition to senior TUI staff and discuss TUI's support for cruel whale and dolphin captivity. TUI tell us that they are reviewing their animal welfare policy and have already stopped business with several captive dolphin attractions.
More than 20,000 people join our Lockdown Never Ends campaign calling on TUI to commit to making this the last generation of whales and dolphins in captivity.
WDC helps create the world's first ocean sanctuary for captive whales. We partnered with the SEA LIFE Trust on one of the biggest developments in captive whale and dolphin care and protection in decades.
French law to phase out whale and dolphin captivity is proposed for discussion in parliament in 2021.
Canada outlaws holding whales and dolphins in captivity.
Major WDC campaign success when Virgin Holidays announces it will drop all captive whale and dolphin attractions.
Major WDC campaign success when British Airways announces it will drop all captive whale and dolphin attractions.
Thomas Cook announces it is dropping all captive orca attractions.
Thomas Cook announces it is dropping some dolphin attractions from its books.
Virgin announces they won't take on any new attractions that feature captive whales and dolphins for theatrical shows, contact sessions (such as swim-with-the-dolphins experiences) or other entertainment purposes.
We take our message to the heart of the company by attending the annual shareholders meeting of British Airways' parent organisation, IAG.
Almost 250,000 people sign our petition calling on British Airways to stop selling tickets to captive whale and dolphin attractions. We present your signatures at a constructive two-hour meeting with British Airways.
Days after we launch our campaign, Virgin announces it will no longer work with facilities who buy whales and dolphins captured from the wild and invites others in the tourism industry to sign up to this pledge too.
WDC launches a campaign calling on Sir Richard Branson to end Virgin Holidays' support for places like SeaWorld.
Game- changing documentary Blackfish is released and BAFTA nominated for Best Documentary.
India bans whale and dolphin captivity following WDC campaign and passes law referring to dolphins as 'non-human persons'.
The UK’s last captive attraction closes its doors after a government review, in part triggered by our 1987 report, calls for minimum standards covering factors such as pool size, feeding, water quality and handling which proved financially unviable for facilities.
WDCS (as we were), together with Born Free, exposes the terrible conditions whales and dolphins, like Winnie the orca at Windsor Safari Park (pictured), are kept in at attractions in the UK.