World Animal Protection accuse travel websites of cashing in on dolphin cruelty

Tourist attractions that use captive dolphins are labelled 'extreme cruelty'.
Tourist attractions that use captive dolphins are labelled 'extreme cruelty'. Photo credit: Getty Images

Travel websites such as Expedia and Flight Centre have been accused of cashing in on 'extreme animal cruelty' by selling tickets to dolphin entertainment shows, according to World Animal Protection.

The new report 'Behind the Smile' claims to be the most comprehensive assessment of captive dolphins to date.

The document says there are 336 dolphin entertainment venues across 54 countries, including the United States, Mexico, the Carribbean and China, with at least 3000 dolphins held captive for up to 50 years.

"Millions of animal lovers every year are fooled into thinking that dolphin shows, and experiences sold by the world's largest travel companies are cruelty-free, educational and good for conservation efforts. But this could not be further from the truth – the industry earns billions of dollars from the cruel captivity of dolphins kept for entertainment," the report says.

World Animal Protection says the dolphin entertainment industry is worth between US$1 billion and US$5 billion dollars per year in ticket sales alone.

"For a wild animal like the dolphins at Sea World on the Gold Coast, a life spent in a tank is not a life, it is a life sentence - we need to make this the last generation of dolphins in captivity," said Ben Pearson, the New Zealand representative for World Animal Protection.

"Companies like Expedia Group and Flight Centre that sell tickets to these shows are cashing in on cruelty."

Pearson has praised other travel brands for pulling out of selling tickets to these sorts of venues.

"Major travel brands like TripAdvisor, Virgin Holidays, British Airways Holidays and have already shown leadership and cut ties - now it's time for others to follow suit," said Pearson.

"That's why we are calling on Expedia Group and the remaining travel companies that are still lagging behind, to end the sale of tickets to dolphin shows, so that we can end their suffering once and for all." 

The report says dolphins swim 100 square kilometres of ocean freely in their natural environment, but in places like Sea World, they're often kept in colrinated tanks.

More than 22,000 people from Australia and New Zealand have signed our petition calling on the Queensland Government to ban captive breeding at Sea World. 

Expedia and Flight Centre have been contacted for comment.