As travel restrictions are eased in many parts of the world and possibilities for far-flung holidays increase, Expedia Group is stepping up its marketing campaigns and positioning itself as a “force for good”.
Yet the company’s continued promotion and profiting from captive dolphins helps sustain an industry into which, every year, dolphins are bred and born into a lifetime of misery for tourist entertainment.
If travel is about freedom, why does the Expedia Group continue to profit from captivity?
Dolphins in captivity facts
Every year, all around the world, dolphins are bred or caught from the wild and begin their decades-long life in captivity. Their captive lives are worlds apart from life in the wild, restricted to featureless tanks that are on average 200,000 times smaller than their natural home-range and unable to join pods or group with dolphins of their choosing. They are given little choice but to perform for noisy crowds.
A dolphin’s life in captivity is a life of suffering at every stage, yet the captive dolphin industry continues to sell tourists the myth of the happy captive dolphin. Sadly, each ticket that is sold sustains the industry and ensures cruelty continues.
Not only do travel companies sell a large proportion of tickets, but their promotion of captive dolphin experiences as part of a carefree, happy holiday perpetuates acceptability.
Travel companies have a responsibility to ensure that they are not profiting from ticket sales that sustain animal cruelty. That’s why companies like Booking.com, Tripadvisor, and Virgin Holidays have all stopped selling captive dolphin experiences. If Expedia Group truly wants to be a “force for good”, it’s time for them to do the same.
We must make this the last generation of dolphins in captivity
In 2019, we launched our Behind the Smile report that evaluated the role of the travel industry in captive dolphin entertainment. The numbers speak for themselves: Expedia Group was not only one of the companies selling tickets to most of the top ten largest dolphin facilities, but many more besides. Expedia Group currently offers tickets to venues that sustain the captivity of at least 750 dolphins worldwide.
Thanks to over 300,000 of our supporters who signed our petition and wrote letters to Expedia Group’s CEO, we met with the company in a series of meetings in 2019. However, the company would not commit to removing captive dolphin offers from sale. Then the pandemic hit, and we put our campaign on pause while travel stopped.
Yet over 3,000 dolphins remain in tanks worldwide and we were eager to reactivate the campaign. So last month, just as Expedia Group began pushing out new big-budget marketing campaigns, we re-launched. Our supporters have once again lent their voices to the campaign by calling out Expedia Group on social media and writing to the company’s Board of Directors. So far, we have received no response from Expedia Group.
#NoTanksExpedia: it’s time to end the cruelty
Although venues haven’t had their typical flow of visitors over the past year, this hasn’t stopped them from breeding dolphins. For as long as travel companies such as Expedia Group sell tickets to captive venues, the incentive for further breeding and wild capture will remain. Although captive venues often tout that they are carrying out conservation work, bottlenose dolphins (the most frequently found species in captive venues) are not endangered. There is no need for this cruelty.
That’s why we are asking you to join our campaign and say #NoTanksExpedia.
On Thursday 20th May, we will be calling on influencers, supporters, and friends to share our messages on social media, with their own networks, families, and friends, to make it clear to Expedia Group that it’s time for them to withdraw their support for dolphin captivity.
We need as many voices as possible to join the campaign to ensure Expedia Group hears us loud and clear. You can’t sell cruel dolphin experiences and be a “force for good”.
This Thursday, speak up for the thousands of dolphins in captivity:
Across social media, search for the hashtag #NoTanksExpedia. Engage with and share the content you find.
Share your own message with your family and friends on social media. Be as creative as you like. Don’t forget to use the hashtag #NoTanksExpedia and tag @Expedia.
We’ll be sharing supporter content across our channels throughout the day. Join thousands of others and be part of the community saying #NoTanksExpedia, this cruelty must end.