Thomas Cook drops the sale of tickets to 16 cruel captive animal attractions

Press release

British travel company Thomas Cook today announced they will stop selling tickets to some of the world’s cruellest wildlife activities, protecting hundreds of dolphins, elephants and other animals from cruel entertainment for tourists.

The decision comes a year after World Animal Protection first called upon the Thomas Cook Group to stop selling cruel elephant rides to venues that promote animal abuses in Thailand, India and Zimbabwe, with a petition signed by over 174,000 supporters.

The venues include 11 that involved dolphins, including Sealanya in Turkey and Ocean World in the Dominican Republic, which has Japanese dolphins subjected to invasive interactions.

Six other captive animal venues include the Baan Chang Elephant Park in Thailand, Asia Safari and Elephant Village in Khao Lak.

Kate Nustedt, Wildlife Director, at World Animal Protection said:

“The tide is turning as more and more companies stop selling tickets to cruel wildlife venues. Thomas Cook’s decision is fantastic news for the animals that have suffered and a clear sign to the industry that wildlife used as entertainment is unacceptable.

“We’d like to see more travel operators take up the mantle and show the same degree of responsibility to protecting animals.  Tourists that visit these venues are unaware of the cruelty and abuse that these animals endure in the name of entertainment and the travel industry has a key role in changing this.”

Wild animals suffer welfare abuses in cruel wildlife tourist attractions.   Elephants are taken from their mothers when young, then isolated, starved and beaten until their spirits are broken and they are submissive enough to give rides and perform in shows.

To bring an end to this cruelty, World Animal Protection works with tour operators around the world to stop sending customers to cruel wildlife entertainment venues. Following the NGO’s campaign, 166 travel companies across the world, including TripAdvisor, Contiki, Kuoni Travel UK and Jetair have committed to no longer offer visits to venues with elephant rides and shows in any of their markets.

Despite this large number, there are still several travel companies who are yet to commit to ending elephant rides and other cruel elephant entertainment, such as Virgin, Audley Travel, Trailfinders and The Ultimate Travel Company in the UK.


Note to editors

For an interview with a spokesperson, contact the International Media Team: / +44 (0)20 7239 0500

As of 2 April 2017, 174,091 World Animal Protection supporters have signed the calling on Thomas Group to stop profiting from the sale of tickets to cruel wildlife tourist attractions.

World Animal Protection began conversations with Thomas Cook Northern Europe in January 2014, and they have committed to stop selling elephant rides and shows from the start of their 2015 winter season in this market only.

World Animal Protection asked people to sign a postcard petition to Thomas Cook, asking them to stop offering elephant rides and shows.

Using Oxford University  WildCRU research ratings and our own research and investigations in Asia and Africa, World Animal Protection’s top 10 list of the world’s cruellest wildlife attractions includes:

  • Riding elephants
  • Taking tiger selfies
  • Walking with lions
  • Visiting bear (pit) parks
  • Holding sea turtles
  • Performing dolphins
  • Watching dancing monkeys
  • Touring civet cat coffee plantations
  • Watching charming snakes and kissing cobras
  • Visiting crocodile farms

World Animal Protection is building a global movement to put wildlife protection on the global agenda and reduce tourist demand for cruel animal entertainment attractions. Find out more via this link: