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New report shows leading travel brands to be complicit in Taiji dolphin hunts

New report shows leading travel brands to be complicit in Taiji dolphin hunts
April 12, 2024

A new report has called for urgent policy action after exposing the tourism industry’s involvement in the Taiji dolphin hunts, notorious for the slaughter of hundreds of dolphins each year and the brutal capture of wild dolphin pods.

Released by World Animal Protection and Action for Dolphins, the report shows that six major travel companies including top offenders Trip. com, Klook, Traveloka, GetYourGuide, and Groupon are linked to the Taiji hunts in Japan by selling tickets to venues that have sourced dolphins from Taiji.

While no Australian or New Zealand travel companies were implicated, countries frequented by Australian or New Zealand tourists including Thailand, Vietnam, Mexico and the Philippines were found to have Taiji dolphins held across their dolphin venues.

The report has identified 107 dolphin entertainment venues across 17 countries with links to Taiji, highlighting the global reach of this issue.

The report also found that the global captive dolphin entertainment industry was a key economic driver of the Taiji hunts, indirectly fuelling demand for the wild capture of live dolphins. Trained dolphins can sell for up to US$150,000 to overseas dolphin entertainment venues.

Commenting on the findings, Suzanne Milthorpe, Head of Campaigns, World Animal Protection Australia and New Zealand, stated “based on the disastrous animal welfare impacts, and absolute brutality involved in these hunts, it is completely indefensible for global travel companies to continue sending unsuspecting travellers to venues who have sourced dolphins from Taiji. This is corporate irresponsibility at its finest.

"As long as travel companies continue to sell tickets to dolphin entertainment venues, they are directly contributing to the suffering of these intelligent marine mammals."

Action for Dolphins Chief Executive, Hannah Tait added “the trade of wild dolphins from Taiji to venues across the world is a secretive business. This report exposes which travel companies are profiting from this outdated and brutal practice.

“With this report, these travel companies are on notice to implement animal welfare policies and stop contributing to animal cruelty.”

Companies including Airbnb, Booking. com, Tripadvisor and Virgin are industry leading for their progressive animal welfare policies.

World Animal Protection's polling reveals that 79% of travellers would prefer to see dolphins in the wild rather than in captivity, with 82% saying companies should not be selling activities that cause suffering to wild animals.

The two organisations are calling on travel companies to take immediate action by implementing robust animal welfare policies and ceasing the promotion of all dolphin entertainment venues.

By not purchasing tickets to dolphin entertainment venues, tourists can also play an important role in keeping dolphins in the wild.

Globally, there has been a shift away from dolphin entertainment:

• 22 countries around the world have banned the import wild caught dolphins.

• Australia implemented a ban on the wild capture of dolphins in 1991. This prohibition was enforced under the Australian National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act.

• In 2021, French parliament passed a bill that bans dolphin shows as well as wild animals used in circuses.

• In 2006 Mexico has a ban on the capture, import and export of all cetaceans.

• While the UK has no ban on keeping cetaceans in captivity, due to strict regulations the country has no cetaceans in captivity.

• In 2022, Sweden’s Kolmården zoo, the largest zoo in Scandinavia, announced it will end its dolphin shows. A similar ban has been in place in Canada since 2019

• Thanks to World Animal Protection’s global campaign Behind the Smile and over 350,000 of our supporters, Expedia became the latest among travel agencies to stop selling tickets that include dolphin shows.

World Animal Protection is the global voice for animal welfare, with more than 70 years’ experience campaigning for a world where animals live free from cruelty and suffering. 

Action for Dolphins has been working to impact the economic viability of hunting dolphins in Taiji, Japan, for 12 years.

In 2015, Action for Dolphins brought a legal action against the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums which led to 62 Japanese aquariums cutting ties with the dolphin hunts.

Click here to view the full report, Waves of Profit: How the Tourism Industry Profits from the Taiji Dolphin Hunts.

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