Animal welfare groups took to the Luton streets to protest against travel company Thomas Cook supporting wildlife theme park, SeaWorld.
Members of Peta (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) and Dolphin Freedom UK stood outside the George Street branch on Saturday, October 7, claiming that orcas and dolphins are kept in “unnatural, cramped conditions.”
A spokesman for the groups, said: “The animals live out only a small part of their natural life spans. We spoke to passers-by, asking them to put pressure on agents to stop promoting cruel venues.”
A Thomas Cook spokeswoman, said: ““We are the first organisation to remove animal excursions from sale as the direct result of auditing against independent welfare standards and we are widely recognised as one of the most progressive businesses on animal welfare in our industry, so it’s surprising that PETA have chosen to target us in this way.
“By the end of 2017, around two-thirds of the animal-related excursions we offer to our customers will have been audited. We expect to complete all audits by the end of 2018. Last year we removed 16 of 25 attractions that did not meet 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.
“We are taking 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.”
A SeaWorld spokesman, said: “SeaWorld is one of the world’s leading zoological facilities which has been caring for marine mammals for more than five decades.
“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 by several of the world’s foremost zoological bodies including the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks & Aquariums (AMMPA).
“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.”