TripAdvisor Gets It Wrong

October 2019

Misled by Animal Rights Extremists, Travel Company Decision Hurts Cetaceans in the Wild and in Human Care

Wash., D.C., Oct. 2, 2019—TripAdvisor’s decision to stop selling tickets to accredited conservation facilities that work to rescue, research, and conserve whales, dolphins and porpoises is misguided, shortsighted, and would harm animals in the wild and in human care.

“We are disheartened by TripAdvisor’s decision to stop working with marine parks, zoos and aquariums just when conservation and scientific research is needed most,” said Alliance President and CEO Kathleen Dezio. “Our oceans are under attack as never before around the world, and these institutions are central to ensuring that endangered species survive.”

Meanwhile, there is credible evidence from multiple studies that show marine mammals thrive in professional, accredited facilities. This decision also ignores the high animal welfare standards, expert zoological accreditations, scientific research, public education, and conservation work of these institutions.

Recent science-based research clearly shows that:

  • Dolphins and other marine mammals in accredited facilities live as long as their ocean counterparts, and in many cases longer, thanks to high-quality food, professional veterinary care, and constant enrichment and exercise to keep them mentally and physically healthy.
  • Stress levels of dolphins in human care – measured by the level of their cortisol hormone – are equal to or lower than in wild dolphins.
  • Wild dolphins have more compromised immune systems than those in human care.

“This decision impedes the work of scientists, sets back progress in understanding marine mammals, and most certainly puts their wild populations at greater risk. If it weren't for scientists doing work at accredited zoos and aquariums, much of what we know about these animals and how to conserve them in the wild would not be known today," Dezio said. "We urge TripAdvisor CEO Steve Kaufer to embrace peer-reviewed science and comprehensive animal welfare principles, and quickly change this destructive policy."

The Alliance is the preeminent accrediting body for zoos, aquariums, and marine parks worldwide that care for marine mammals. Alliance members provide the highest standards of care, and contribute heavily to conservation through research, education and rescue of sick and injured animals in the wild. Its accredited institutions in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Europe, Asia, and the Caribbean collectively possess the largest body of marine mammal experience and expertise in the world.

AMMPA-accredited facilities must prove in on-site inspections that they meet strict, comprehensive standards in a dozen areas, including animal husbandry, animal training, interactive programs, propagation, quarantine, water and environmental quality, education, enclosure requirements, and scientific research and conservation, among others. These standards are meant to optimize the health and welfare of and environmental conditions for marine mammals and maximize their educational and scientific impact.

More than 700 million people visit zoos and aquariums each year, forming a powerful connection with animals and leaving armed with facts about how to help save them in increasingly threatened wild environments.

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