Marine biologists and activists are increasingly calling for the end to dolphins and whales held in captivity, especially for entertainment purposes, as these environments do not give them the space, social connection, and mental stimulation their complex brains need to thrive. Captive sea creatures are a big business, slowing action on this issue, but a policy change from travel giant Expedia could expedite the end to captive dolphins and whales.
The travel company, which serves as a one stop shop for many vacation bookings, has announced that they will no longer sponsor activities or lodging options that feature captive dolphins and whales. The company publicized the change on Twitter, writing, “We recently adjusted our animal welfare policy. As a result, attractions and activities that involve performances by or interactions with dolphins and other cetaceans will no longer be available on our sites.”
Expedia’s policy is the latest in a shift away from unethical animal practices in the industry. Intrepid Travel discontinued elephant rides through their platform in 2014, and Virgin Holidays ended dolphin and whale demonstration bookings in 2019.
Katheryn Wise, from World Animal Protection, told the Guardian, “Travel companies play a huge role in driving captive dolphin entertainment and as one of the largest travel companies in the world we are delighted that Expedia Group is making a stand. It’s time for other travel giants … to do the right thing and follow suit.”
The company will give vendors 30 days to comply with the new regulations before removal from the site. It also clarifies that it will allow accredited seaside sanctuaries in which animals are in a “permanent seaside living environment” and do not allow interactions or performances.