Although many animals around the world are subject to the harsh world of wildlife tourism, Katie explained that she was particularly stunned at the treatment within the dolphin tourism industry. She stated that many of the dolphins used in the dolphin swimming activities are captured from the ocean “in the most horrendous way”, noting that this was particularly the case in Taiji, Japan.
“Many tourists think that swimming with dolphins is a fun experience for all involved, including the dolphins, but that is simply not the case. Dolphins are highly intelligent, social animals, who think and feel in the same way we do.”
Katie continued “After finding a dolphin pod, hunters bang sticks on the side of boats to disorientate the dolphins and then drive them into a shallow cove. Once in the cove, dolphins are trapped by nets. The attractive ones are selected for the entertainment industry, the rest are slaughtered.”
She went on to explain that the dolphin tourism industry puts the mammals on a diet of frozen fish, laced with anti-depressants – and continue to eat this for the rest of their lives. Katie realised that this was a stark contrast to the lives they live in the ocean, where they have large families and can travel up to 100 miles per day.
“Instead of the ocean, they now live in a tank, separated from their family and all they have known. They are forced to participate in constant human interaction. No tank, no matter how big can ever replicate the ocean, simply because there are no walls in the ocean.”
In a statement published on their website, Chief Executive, Peter Fankhauser, said: “We know that the animal attractions we sell are an important part of the experience customers enjoy on holiday. But I also want to ensure that, in providing those attractions, we are living up to our promise to put our customers’ interests at the heart of all that we do. That’s why Thomas Cook is today launching a new animal welfare policy – one that takes a much stronger approach to ensuring the welfare of animals in the attractions we sell.”
Katie has described this as a “small step in the right direction”, adding that “improving animal welfare can never be a bad thing”. However, she noted that she “fundamentally disagrees with the concept of captive dolphins” and noted that, by continuing to sell tickets to dolphin parks, Thomas Cook continue to be “complicit in fuelling the demand for this cruel industry”.
We are also fundamentally against the keeping of any cetacean in captivity and it saddens us greatly that on our Thomas Cook holidays to the Luna y Mares hotel at Guardalavaca, tickets are sold for excursions to swim with captive dolphins in netted enclosures in the bay. On our last visit, there were two dolphins being kept in a small netted enclosure in shallow water next to the beach. I wonder what the water temperature was in this shallow water in the baking sun.
So please sign the petition and do all that you can to pressure Thomas Cook to put the dolphins’ interests above those of its customers and Thomas Cook’s bottom line.