WASHINGTON, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, October 2, 2019 —
American Humane, the country’s first national humane organization, which has been working for 142 years to fight animal abuse and protect and preserve all living creatures believes that a new TripAdvisor policy intended to support the world’s remarkable whales, dolphins, and other cetaceans, will actually harm these magnificent and often endangered creatures and drive many one step closer to extinction.
TripAdvisor’s new policy, which states that the company will cease selling experiences to any venue in which cetaceans are bred, and promotes the use of “sea sanctuaries,” is driven more by misguidedcrusading and wishful thinking than science, says American Humane, which has pioneered virtually every major humane protection for animals since 1877 and is the largest certifier of animal welfare in the world, overseeing the humane treatment of some one billion animals around the planet each year. American Humane wants the animal-loving public toknow that all wildlife tourism with cetaceans is not inhumane or harmful,and that there are responsible and humane zoological institutionsdedicated to the conservation of these remarkable species. American Humane recommends that the public seek out American Humane Certified, AZA, AMMPA, or ZAA–accredited modern zoos, aquariums,and marine life parks, which are dedicated wildlife advocates, providing excellent, state–of–the–art environments for the animals in their care and supporting critical conservation and education programs.
An estimated half a million cetaceans die or are killed in the wild each year, underscoring the vital need for responsible and humane conservation of these remarkable creatures in topnotch quality human care, says American Humane. Many species of cetaceans are dwindling in number and a ban on all breeding will not only compound the problem, but cruelly denies animals the opportunity to engage in the natural behaviors they exhibit freely in the wild. And “sea sanctuaries,” far from being single, simple solutions, present their own challenges, as well. Indeed, some proposed sea sanctuaries have been lacking in vital infrastructure and key features required to properly maintain the care, health, welfare and survival of these amazing animals. Furthermore, indications are that they are unsustainably costly, bring a number of their own welfare problems, and are unnecessary. There is no scientific indication that these types of animals are better off in sea pens. A recent meta-analysis showed no consistent differences in stress cortisol levels when comparing marine mammals in aquariums to those in the wild. And an independent AP report indicated that over the last 10 years wild orcas and those in human care have enjoyed similar lifespans.
In addition to the scientists and humane experts at American Humane, the broader public is also unlikely to support TripAdvisor’s move, as 700 million people each year actively seek out and engage in animal tourism, building bonds with rare and endangered creatures at zoos, aquariums and conservation centers that are vitally crucial in cultivating a worldwide network of animal ambassadors who are devoted to protecting and conserving disappearing species. Such experiences are key to helping people appreciate and understand the magnificent capabilities of these animals – knowledge that comes through seeing and admiring them. These hundreds of millions of visitors and tourists will speak not only with their hearts but with their pocketbooks. Travel giant Thomas Cook, which also implemented policies restricting customers from engaging in a host of animal experiences, recently suffered a catastrophic and widely covered bankruptcy.
“TripAdvisor’s policy change is ill-advised, is not based in science, and will harm the very animals it seeks to protect,” says Dr. Paul Boyle, national director of humane conservation at American Humane. “As the country’s first national humane organization and passionate, global animal advocates for more than 140 years, we profoundly disagree with this decision. We propose that a balanced approach toward actually helping to conserve these wonderful animals is what the overwhelming majority of people expect from global leaders in providing access to wholesome and humane professional experiences in educational settings. At a time when the world’s species are facing what scientists call a ‘Sixth Mass Extinction,’ we are asking TripAdvisor to reverse this new, ill-advised and absolute policy, which will harm the amazing and irreplaceable whales, dolphins and other cetaceans with whom we share the Earth.”
American Humane is the country’s first national humane organization, founded in 1877. To learn more, please visit www.americanhumane.org.