U.K. operators shun animal attractions

U.K. operators shun animal attractions

British travel company Thomas Cook on Monday said it has
stopped selling tickets to 16 wildlife activities, following in the footsteps of other
companies that are avoiding animal encounters they deem as cruel or inhumane.

The decision was announced the same day that U.K.-based tour
operator Responsible Travel said that it would no longer promote trips that
include zoo visits, and consequently removed six trips from its website that
had included zoos.

Thomas Cook Group has stopped selling tickets for 11 venues
that incorporate dolphin interactions, including Sealanya in Turkey and Ocean
World in the Dominican Republic, as well as for six other captive-animal
venues, including the Baan Chang Elephant Park and the Asia Safari and Elephant
Village in Thailand.

According to animal rights advocacy group World Animal
Protection, Thomas Cook’s decision came after the organization put pressure on
the company to take action with a petition signed by more than 174,000
supporters.

“The tide is turning as more and more companies stop
selling tickets to cruel wildlife venues,” Kate Nustedt, wildlife director
at World Animal Protection, said in a statement. “Tourists that visit
these venues are unaware of the cruelty and abuse that these animals endure in
the name of entertainment, and the travel industry has a key role in changing
this.”

As part of a larger campaign to influence travel companies
to stop offering trips to venues where animals are used to entertain visitors,
World Animal Protection has seen 166 travel companies, including well-known
brands such as TripAdvisor and Contiki, commit to discontinuing visits to
venues that offer elephant rides and shows.

Responsible Travel stated that its decision to take an even
stronger stance by discontinuing zoo visits came after the release of the 2016
BBC Horizon program “Should we Close Our Zoos?” After consulting with
wildlife charity Born Free Foundation, the company decided that there was no
longer any justifiable reason for keeping animals in captivity.

“Zoos are not appropriate in 2017. They are relics of
the past, and the arguments to justify keeping animals in captivity no longer
stand up,” stated Justin Francis, CEO of Responsible Travel. “The sad
reality is that the animals are held captive primarily for our entertainment
not for reasons of conservation, and it is time that this stopped.”

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