TripAdvisor ban on dolphin, whale attractions: Sea World criticises move

​Sea World on the Gold Coast has hit back at TripAdvisor's ban on ticket sales for attractions that feature whales, dolphins or porpoises.

The global travel giant TripAdvisor announced the ban on any theme parks and tourist attractions that breed or import whales, dolphins and porpoises for public viewing.

The new policy, which will impact major venues including Sea World, comes after the travel company stopped ticket sales for elephant rides, selfies with tigers and other tourist entertainment deemed cruel to animals.

Sea World has hit back at the announcement, saying the health and wellbeing of animals were its top priority and it has a strong reputation for caring for marine animals.

TripAdvisor will review experiences for sale on its platform and remove any commercial facilities that breed or import whales, dolphins and porpoises - known as cetaceans - by the end of the year, according to a statement.

The policy will not apply to seaside sanctuaries that care for cetaceans already in captivity.

The policy shift came "after careful consideration of the scientific evidence and arguments presented from all sides", TripAdvisor states.

"Ultimately, we concluded that whales and dolphins do not thrive in captivity - the evidence is both plentiful and compelling," the company said.

"These are highly intelligent animals with complex needs, and their natural environment and wide-ranging roaming habits in the wild cannot be mimicked in inland facilities and small sea pens."


Leading Australian marine park Sea World urged the travel agency to research the science and conservation-based evidence which supports zoos and aquariums and to reach out if they have any questions.

"Sea World is proud of our global leadership in animal rescue, education, research and conservation, and our world-class facilities," the company said.

Sea World said it is an accredited zoological institution under the Zoo and Aquarium Association and also regulated by multiple State and Federal Government agencies.

"We have a long history of working with marine animals, with over 40 years of experience in animal care, research and rescue."

The move has been condemned by Queensland state opposition MPs, with Broadwater MP David Crisafulli tweeting it was a decision based on poor information.

"(Sea World) has a strong record with animals in need. Assisting, rehabilitating & releasing where possible, educating generations with awareness & scientific knowledge. Shame," the MP wrote.

Mr Crisafulli, the opposition tourism spokesman, later called on Queenslanders to boycott TripAdvisor. 

Queensland Tourism Minister Kate Jones called on TripAdvisor to "show some common sense" and overturn the ban, the Courier-Mail reported.

But animal activist group Justice for Captives celebrated the announcement.

"Progress in kind tourism! We want more companies stop selling tickets to Sea World and similar parks," the group wrote on Facebook.

Tourism Minister Kate Jones has been contacted for comment.