Elephants at tourist attraction with saddles on their backs - Wildlife. Not entertainers - World Animal Protection

Tide keeps turning, as major travel company halts ticket sales to 16 cruel animal venues


Thomas Cook has dropped a host of cruel, captive animal attractions

British company Thomas Cook has announced it will join a raft of trailblazing travel firms who have stopped selling tickets to some of the world’s cruellest wildlife activities.

This move will protect hundreds of dolphins, elephants and other wild animals from exploitation in the name of entertaining tourists.

Joining the movement

The decision comes over a year after we first called upon Thomas Cook Group to stop selling tickets to cruel elephant rides at venues in Thailand, India and Zimbabwe.

We presented the company with a 174,000 signature-strong petition, showing just how many people wanted to see wild animals protected from horrific abuse in the tourism industry.

Following our petition, in January 2016, Thomas Cook announced it would stop selling and promoting elephant rides. It also carried out an audit on its entire range of wildlife experiences.

The round of 16 venues that will no longer be promoted by Thomas Cook is the latest win for animals.

The attractions affected include:

  • 11 involving dolphins, including Sealanya in Turkey and Ocean World in the Dominican Republic, which subjects Japanese dolphins to invasive interactions with tourists
  • other captive animal venues including Baan Chang Elephant Park in Thailand, Asia Safari and Elephant Village in Khao Lak

Tourists riding elephants at an attraction in Thailand

Gajender K Sharma, our India Country Director, said:

"The tide is turning as more and more companies stop selling tickets to cruel wildlife venues. Thomas Cook’s decision is fantastic news for the animals that have suffered and a clear sign to the industry that wildlife used as entertainment is unacceptable.

"We’d like to see more travel operators take up the mantle and show the same degree of responsibility to protecting animals."

Working with the travel industry

Wild animals suffer welfare abuse in cruel wildlife tourist attractions. Elephants are taken from their mothers when young, then isolated, starved and beaten until their spirits are broken and they are submissive enough to give rides and perform in shows.

To bring an end to this cruelty, we’re working with tour operators around the world, urging them to stop sending customers to cruel wildlife entertainment venues.

As a result of our Wildlife. Not entertainers campaign, 166 travel companies globally, including leading recommendation site TripAdvisor, Contiki, Kuoni Travel UK and Jetair have committed to stop offering visits to venues with elephant rides and shows.

Empowering with knowledge

Tourists visiting animal entertainment venues are often animal lovers, unaware of the cruelty and abuse inflicted in the name of entertainment. The travel industry has a key role in changing this.

Using Oxford University WildCRU research ratings and our own investigations in Asia and Africa, we defined a top 10 list of the world’s cruellest wildlife attractions:

  1. Riding elephants
  2. Taking tiger selfies
  3. Walking with lions
  4. Visiting bear (pit) parks
  5. Holding sea turtles
  6. Performing dolphins
  7. Watching dancing monkeys
  8. Touring civet cat coffee plantations
  9. Watching charming snakes and kissing cobras
  10. Visiting crocodile farms

Want to help? We're running a petition to help protect tigers from a 'new Tiger Temple' tourist attraction in Thailand. Sign now.

Thomas Cook’s decision is fantastic news for the animals that have suffered and a clear sign to the industry that wildlife used as entertainment is unacceptable. - Kate Nustedt, our wildlife director

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