Published on Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Comedian urges Thomas Cook to drop SeaWorld

Comedian Paul O'Grady has joined a campaign calling on Thomas Cook to stop selling tickets to SeaWorld.

The TV and radio presenter sent a letter to Thomas Cook's chief executive Peter Fankhauser on behalf of animal welfare group PETA calling for it to remove the amusement park, where captive whales are one of the main attractions, from its promotions.

"Selling tickets to SeaWorld condemns orcas to a life sentence in a barren prison cell. We know so much more about wild animals today than we did decades ago ... I hope you'll agree that we can no longer in good conscience continue to exploit them for human entertainment," he said.

He pointed out that at SeaWorld, young orcas are separated from their mothers with whom, in the wild, they often spend their entire lives, and that they are forced to swim in 'endless circles' in small tanks at the marine park.

O'Grady also claimed that at least 41 orcas have died at SeaWorld -none of old age.

"I hope Thomas Cook, as the UK's oldest and most renowned travel provider, will join the growing list of institutions which have severed ties with SeaWorld. Until then, I won't book it - I won't Thomas Cook it," he added, alluding to the operator's previous slogan, 'Don't just book it, Thomas Cook it'.

In response, SeaWorld issued the following statement: "Animal welfare standards at SeaWorld are amongst the highest in the world and are regulated by the US government through federal and state laws including the Animal Welfare Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act.


"Our parks are accredited and certified by several of the world's foremost zoological bodies including the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks & Aquariums and the American Humane Association.


"Despite the views of animal activists, who want to see an end to all zoological display, the role of accredited zoos and aquariums is more important now than ever before.


"Through educating guests about animals and the plights they face in the wild, facilitating vital scientific research to help wild populations and funding conservation projects in the field, SeaWorld Parks and other leading accredited facilities are working to protect species for generations to come."

Thomas Cook said: "We are the first organisation to remove animal excursions from sale as the direct result of auditing against independent welfare standards.

"So far this year, 12 attractions are on notice to improve their animal welfare arrangements or face Thomas Cook removing them from sale.

"By the end of next year all of our animal related excursions will have been audited and we will not be selling those which do not meet the required standards.

"We take our policy to raise animal welfare standards very seriously so that our customers can be confident in all of the trips that they take when on holiday with us."

As part of its campaign, PETA has organised protests outside more than 80 Thomas Cook branches across the UK.


Other celebrities who have joined PETA to speak out against holding animals captive at marine parks include X Factor host Sharon Osbourne and the late actor Sir Roger Moore.

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