United Airlines has stopped selling SeaWorld tickets following a campaign by animal rights charity PETA.
In addition, the organization has removed all mentions of the park from its United Vacations website.
It has joined a range of other operators who have ditched the marine park, including Virgin Holidays and Alaska, Delta, JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit, Sunwing, and WestJet airlines.that have cut ties with SeaWorld.
‘The right call’
“United Airlines made the right call to cut ties with a park that confines orcas and other dolphins to concrete tanks that, to them, are the size of bathtubs,” PETA Senior Vice President, Lisa Lange, said in a statement sent to Plant Based News.
“SeaWorld is still breeding generation after generation of dolphins to be ridden around like surfboards in sea circus shows, and PETA urges anyone who cares about animals to stay away.”
The charity adds that in nature orcas may swim as far as 140 miles in a day and bottlenose dolphins may swim up to 60 miles a day, but at SeaWorld, ‘140 [dolphins] are squeezed into just seven small tanks’.
In addition, PETA revealed that it attended SeaWorld’s annual meeting in June (as it is a shareholder) and ‘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’.
SeaWorld came under fire earlier this month when two former trainers claimed whales at the park were drugged and starved – resulting in stomach ulcers and signs of self-harming.
Jeffrey Ventre, aged 55, who first started working for SeaWorld in 1987, told the Sun Online: “The job is more akin to a stunt man or clown performing with captive animals using food deprivation as a motivator. The whales and dolphins were stressed and this caused stomach ulcers. So they got meds for that. They also got chronic infections, so they got antibiotics.
“They were also sometimes aggressive or hard to control so they could be given Valium to calm their aggression.”
John Hargrove, an ex-SeaWorld trainer who resigned in 2012 due to animal-welfare conditions, added: “I worked with some whales that were on medication every day of their life and have personally watched whales die at very young ages from disease. It was the most difficult decision in my life to have to walk away from the whales I loved to be able to become a whistle-blower and expose the industry.”
SeaWorld denied the claims in a statement to the Mail Online, saying: “These are many of the same tired, false and misleading claims uninformed activists and disgruntled former employees have been repeating for years.
Our animal welfare practices are accredited and reviewed by organizations such as American Humane, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums and US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, so any notion that SeaWorld abuses animals is categorically false.
The fact is, no one does more to protect marine mammals and advance cetacean research, rescue and conservation than the more than 1,000 dedicated animal care experts at SeaWorld.