Following a PETA campaign that included stationing a life-size, crying and chained inflatable orca outside the Upper West Side offices of AAA Northeast, the regional division of the automobile association has announced it will no longer sell SeaWorld tickets.
AAA Northeast, which includes clubs throughout Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island, joins a growing list of travel industry leaders that have cut ties with SeaWorld including AAA Arizona, AAA Washington, and Virgin Holidays as well as United, Alaska, Delta, JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit, Sunwing, and WestJet airlines.
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“No decent business should want to be associated with an amusement park that’s still breeding dolphins and riding them around like surfboards in circus-style shows,” PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman said in a statement. “AAA Northeast made the right call in cutting ties with SeaWorld, and PETA is calling on AAA branches that haven’t yet done so to follow suit.”
In nature, orcas may swim as far as 140 miles in a day and bottlenose dolphins may swim up to 60 miles a day, dive to depths of nearly 1,500 feet, and maintain dynamic relationships within a large social network, PETA said.
“At SeaWorld, 140 (dolphins) are squeezed into just seven small tanks and can’t escape attacks from other frustrated, aggressive dolphins,” according to the PETA statement. “At SeaWorld’s annual meeting in June, PETA, which owns stock in the company, urged its fellow shareholders to stop allowing trainers to stand on dolphins’ backs and faces, which (as detailed in a new veterinary report) may damage their hearing, strain muscles and joints, and exacerbate the injuries caused by confinement to the cramped tanks.”
PETA, whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment” is calling on AAA National to also stop promoting SeaWorld.
In recent years, the controversy surrounding marine mammals in captivity has intensified, due in large part to the 2013 documentary Blackfish which shined the light on the bleak lives of captive killer whales.
As TravelPulse reported earlier this year, a study from ITB Berlin further strengthens the case against keeping marine mammals in captivity.
The report, the fifth edition of The Case Against Marine Mammals in Captivity. pointed out that thousands of marine mammals including dolphins and small whales are living in captivity around the world and that more are taken from the wild and sold into captivity each year.
The venues driving this industry, notes the report, cause immense suffering at every stage of the animal’s life, from capture to transportation, to a lifelong existence in small barren tanks that cause severe stress for marine mammals.
Based on robust scientific evidence, The Case Against Marine Mammals in Captivity also lays out ethical arguments regarding the harsh, behind-the-scenes realities for marine animals at zoos, aquariums, and marine parks.
The controversy surrounding captive marine mammals has been further fueled by the deaths of several dolphins at a Phoenix-area facility.