Expedia Travel Group bans bookings for any cetacean performances or interactions as part of responsible and conservation tourism … looking at you, Loro Parque

Expedia Travel Group has announced that it will no longer offer any attractions or activities that involve performances by or interactions with dolphins or other cetaceans including orcas on its booking sites. Referencing its wildlife guidelines that form part of its animal welfare policy, the group says that if done “responsibly and thoughtfully, activities featuring animals can instill a deeper connection with the natural world, promote conservation, enhance the human experience, and drive interest in the treatment and survival of all animals.”

The group works with accredited zoos and aquariums but says that corporate policy is now that “activities that feature interactions with or performances by dolphins, whales, and other cetaceans” are prohibited. Expedia will continue to offer bookings for seaside sanctuaries that provide captive animals with a permanent seaside living environment but obviously only if they’re also accredited and don’t feature interactions or performances.

This is a major step forwards for the welfare of cetaceans and hopefully will be the start of increased pressure on the establishments that still offer them. Everyone will be very aware that I love Loro Parque. This is because I love birds, adore them, would do anything to help them, and Loro Parque saves not just lives but species. They are wonderful as an environmental foundation. BUT. The tension over the years with such a venue offering exhibitions and performances of cetaceans in pools has been significant, and I have found myself posting about LP having no choice but to turn a relatively blind eye, at least in print, to their water-based activities.

No more. Expedia is a travel company but they’re doing it right. As I said in the lifeboat post, we need tourism, it just has to be sustainable. It is not sustainable to keep orcas in tanks that might technically be large enough but which even the wilfully blind would find hard to claim are ocean sized. And dolphins are beautifully but unfortunately saddled with a face that always looks happy regardless of their misery. Let the current inhabitants be the last in Loro Parque.

My message to LP is: save the birds, work with the birds, you are wonderful with the birds. Let the cetaceans come to a natural end and them drop them. You won’t have the tourists anyway in the future that you might expect. The world is changing and you know it because you are an environmental foundation! If you don’t know it, no-one does.