Thomas Cook’s Boycott of Dolphin and Elephant Entertainment
Thomas Cook is the most recent company to have had a change of heart about animal captive entertainment - a change that is, in large part, thanks to a big wave of public pressure. The popular travel agency announced that it will no longer promote “cruel” businesses that violate welfare standards for elephants and cetaceans (dolphins and whales).
The boycott was decided upon in response to an independent report that featured particularly egregious practices at facilities including Ocean World in the Dominican Republic, Sealanya in Turkey and Bann Chang tours in Samui, Thailand. At these places, elephants and dolphins are made to perform mundane and insulting tricks, day in and day out, for tourists who remain oblivious to their suffering.
Thomas Cook staff have reportedly been told to stop selling tickets for these facilities, which did not meet the minimum welfare standards.
Peter Fankhauser, the company’s chief executive, said, “Our industry has not changed fast enough. By taking these attractions off sale, we are sending a message that we won’t accept anything less than full compliance with the welfare standards our customers would expect.”
Thomas Cook’s decision is yet another example of how important and effective public pressure truly is. As daunting as it may seem to even get their attention, companies will listen to people when they are bombarded by social media messages, phone calls and emails, as happened with Trip Advisor, which decided to stop selling tickets to swim-with-dolphin excursions; the Vancouver Aquarium, which is currently fighting off attempts to ban captivity in that city; and SeaWorld, which bowed to public pressure and has committed to ending orca captivity at its facilities. The bottom line – keep sending those messages! Your voice is important, and it is heard.