Carnival Cruise Lines turns a blind eye to cruel sea turtle attraction
One of the world’s largest cruise line companies is failing to take action to protect endangered sea turtles from shocking conditions, despite repeated requests to stop operating tours to the Cayman Turtle Centre: Island Wildlife Encounter.
In the lead up to World Turtle Day next month (23 May), World Animal Protection has launched a petition urging Carnival Cruise Lines to put the welfare of endangered sea turtles ahead of profit and stop sending unwitting tourists to this cruel attraction in the Cayman Islands.
Tourists visiting the centre via Carnival Cruise Lines for the opportunity to take a ‘turtle selfie’ are usually unaware of the abuse and suffering the turtles experience when they are being handled, which features in World Animal Protection’s top ten cruellest wildlife attractions.
In 2012, the charity exposed behind the scenes evidence of more than 5,000 endangered sea turtles in overcrowded, unhygienic conditions, fed on an unnatural diet, resulting in abnormal behaviours such as aggression and even cannibalism. The centre conditions are a far cry from the natural environment in which sea turtles normally live.
The centre also breeds turtles to provide turtle meat for people and restaurants across the island. The facility claims that turtle meat has high local demand, however a recent report funded by the UK government, shows that only 1% of Caymanians eat turtle meat on a regular basis, calling into question the strength of the ongoing demand.
Despite numerous attempts to work with them, Carnival Cruise Lines are turning a blind eye to the appalling conditions these sea turtles experience by continuing to send endless streams of visitors to the centre.
Neil D’Cruze, Senior Wildlife Advisor at World Animal Protection, says:
“The stress and injuries associated with the repeated handling these wild sea turtles by tourists is just the tip of the iceberg. Behind the scenes hundreds of sea turtles are crammed into overcrowded shallow tanks out of sight from the tourist view.
“It’s really disappointing that Carnival Cruise Lines have failed to provide World Animal Protection with any meaningful action to help protect these sea turtles, which is why we’re urging the public to sign a petition asking Carnival to stop fueling this unnecessary cruelty.
“Ultimately we want to see the farm operate as a genuine rehabilitation and education centre, where endangered turtles are properly protected. These wild animals should not be handled by tourists or served up on a tourist plate as a novelty burger.”
World Animal Protection is also concerned about possible health risks to turtles and people. In 2014 local media reports revealed that 1,268 turtles died due to Clostridium, the bacteria that can cause botulism, tetanus and other potentially serious health problems for people.
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Notes to editors
World Animal Protection has been working to help reduce cruelty to turtles at Cayman Turtle Farm (CTF), for many years. In 2012 we spent 12 months collecting evidence to persuade the farm that a transition to humane operations would benefit their business model economically and environmentally, while proving that the farm as it stands represents a potential threat to the health of its visitors.
From 2013-2014, we ran a petition calling on CTF to stop farming turtles for meat and transition to a genuine rehabilitation and education center, which received more than 180,000 signatures. CTF has so far refused to take meaningful action to protect the turtles in its care.
A recent report, funded by the UK government shows that only 1% of Caymanians eat turtle meat on a regular basis http://www.darwininitiative.org.uk/project/DPLUS019/
Our campaign, Wildlife – not entertainers, is dedicated to ending the unnecessary suffering caused by the cruel wildlife entertainment industry.