Was the TBEX conference right to cancel its dolphin ride tours in response to pressure? I’m not sure.

Last week it was announced that, following pressure from various bloggers and animal rights campaigners, the travel conference TBEX had removed swim with dolphin tours from its programme of pre-event tours. The general response amongst those working in responsible tourism has been one of celebration. I am less sure how I feel, despite having written twice in recent months about my opposition to dolphinariums (the second article is here). Here is my dilemma. On the one hand I am pleased the … [Read more...]

What should smart travel companies do about elephant rides, dolphinariums and orphanage visits?

Ride an Elephant. Cuddle an orphan. Watch a whale do tricks. For a long time they have been some of the most emotive experiences travel companies can offer. In recent months, however, there have been several negative stories about each of these, many of which we have covered, such as here for dolphins and here for orphanages. I am not going to go into the issues again, but rather look at how travel companies chose to respond. From what I have seen, the responses can be split into three … [Read more...]

Could there be ‘responsible’ dolphin shows or are some things beyond certification?

In 1981 I went to Seaworld in California, aged 8 years old. I saw Shamu the killer whale, and went home with a beloved soft toy Shamu. It was one of the happiest days of my young life. Years later, while researching an article on the impact of captivity on killer whales, I discovered something which shattered my fond childhood memory. Shamu was dead. Actually it was worse than that - Shamu wasn't just dead. He'd died over and over again. No one seems too sure how many times he's died. Because … [Read more...]