British Airways Joins List of Operators Cutting Ties With SeaWorld

ba orca tank

A growing list of tour operators are ceasing to offer trips that include captive marine animals (Photo: Miles Away Photography/

British Airways Holidays announced this week that it will no longer promote attractions featuring captive animals, including SeaWorld.

Working in partnership with wildlife charity Born Free, the UK's national carrier has launched a new animal welfare strategy. As of 8 August 2019, all attractions where captive wild animals are central to the attraction have been removed from its website, Certain hotels that keep wild animals on site will continue to be listed, but will be labelled as doing so, allowing customers to 'make an informed choice when booking their holiday', according to a statement on the BA website.

Claire Bentley, Managing Director of British Airways Holidays said: 'Our customers tell us they have concerns about wild animals being kept in captivity, and increasingly see animal performances in particular as outdated. We are delighted to have worked with Born Free to develop our new strategy which allows our customers to make more informed choices and we are contacting all our hotel and attraction partners about our new approach.'

ba plane

Photo: Fasttailwind/

The new policy is being announced at the same time as Born Free launches a new global online alert system, giving customers the opportunity to report captive animal suffering. The Born Free Raise the Red Flag campaign allows people to make the charity aware of potential cases that may require its help, while also raising awareness of sites animal lovers may want to avoid, both in the UK and abroad.

Dr Chris Draper, Head of Animal Welfare & Captivity, at Born Free said: 'We are delighted that as part of our new and exciting partnership, British Airways Holidays has committed to supporting both the creation of a new sanctuary space for rescued wild animals and to support our new initiative Raise the Red Flag.'

The move has also been applauded by the Washington, D.C.-based Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) which, together with World Animal Protection, published the fifth edition of The Case Against Marine Mammals in Captivity. The report delves into the behind-the-scenes realities of zoos, aquariums and marine theme parks that display marine mammals, which, according to a press release from AWI, 'for the most part fail to provide essential or even accurate conservation or education resources.'

Dr Naomi Rose, marine mammal scientist for the  Animal Welfare Institute, said: 'A growing number of tourism-related businesses clearly see the future. They realize that their customer base no longer wants to see intelligent dolphins and whales performing circus tricks. Now it’s time for the marine theme parks to get the message.'

Within the last month, Virgin Holidays, United Airlines and AAA Northeast have all dropped SeaWorld from their trip offerings. Other tour operators that have cut ties with SeaWorld include Thomas Cook, WestJet, Air Canada, JetBlue, Southwest, Alaska, Delta, Spirit and Sunwing

'We salute British Airways and AAA Northeast for following the lead of Virgin Holidays, ending their promotion and ticket sales for captive cetacean shows,' said Dr Rose. 'Whales and dolphins belong in the ocean — not in concrete tanks — and we are thrilled to see a growing number of tourism-related companies realizing this at last.'





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