Breaking! Signatures Needed After World Animal Protection’s New Report Reveals Expedia Group Sells & Promotes Venues That Use Dolphins For So-Called “Entertainment”

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Photos from World Animal Protection

World Animal Protection released a new report called Behind the Smile which reveals that dolphin “entertainment” is animal cruelty masquerading as innocent fun. Unsuspecting tourists are fueling this multi-billion-dollar industry, while travel companies are reaping the rewards.

Millions of animal lovers every year are led to believe that dolphin shows, and experiences sold by some of the world’s largest travel companies are cruelty-free, educational, and beneficial for conservation efforts. This could not be further from the truth. Rather, the industry is reaping billions of dollars in profits off of the cruel captivity of dolphins kept for entertainment.

“Many people feel excited when watching dolphin shows or when swimming with dolphins because they love animals, and the dolphins appear happy, but in reality, their smile is just a physical characteristic and not an emotional response,” Executive Director Alesia Soltanpanah of World Animal Protection U.S., said in a statement.  “What these dolphins actually feel is cruelty and suffering from being held in captivity.”

The report, Behind the Smile, is the most comprehensive assessment of captive dolphins to date. It reveals that globally:

  • There are 336 dolphin entertainment venues in 54 countries, including the United States, Mexico, China, and many countries in the Caribbean, which hold at least 3,029 dolphins captive. The United States alone has 400 dolphins in captivity.

  • These captive dolphins annually generate a staggering 1.1 to 5.5 billion USD for the venue owners. This does not include additional income from merchandise, food, sponsorships, and accommodations that these captive dolphins generate.

  • Specifically, in the United States, Miami Seaquarium houses Pacific white-sided dolphins with an orca named Lolita. The tank in which Lolita resides is reportedly the smallest in the world for an orca and she has not seen another orca since her tank-mate Hugo died in 1980. The white-sided dolphins have been recorded routinely attacking Lolita; harassing, chasing and raking her with their teeth. Housing different species together in captivity, where there is no room for the animals to avoid each other, frequently results in increased aggression and discomfort.

When dolphins are in their natural environment, they can swim across a territory of more than 40 miles of ocean freely. However, when held in tiny, barren, concrete tanks 200,000 times smaller than their natural space, in which they are exposed to infection, chemicals, and often drugged to cope with captivity, the dolphins sadly can only swim a few feet at a time. The anxiety and stress can cause them to self-mutilate and become aggressive.

Many venues promote the rescue and rehabilitation of dolphins and claim to boost conservation efforts. In fact, 10% of zoos, dolphinariums, and aquariums are involved in substantial conservation efforts.

The amount other venues spend on conservation is often less than 1% of revenue. Dolphins bred in captivity are used solely to sustain the captive population which demonstrates the falsehood of conservation claims that the industry makes.

“Leaders in the tourism industry such as Airbnb and the global educational travel organization EF Education First have already cut ties with dolphin venues to become leaders in this space, said Soltanpanah. “It is time for Expedia to stop profiting from dolphin captivity and help ensure that this is the last generation of dolphins in captivity.”

Sadly, visiting a dolphin show is the third most common tourist activity involving wild animals.

Join the movement to call on Expedia to end the sale and promotion of venues that use dolphins for entertainment. Please sign the petition HERE!

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