ORLANDO, Fla. – British Airways has announced it has cut ties with attractions that feature captive wild animals, including SeaWorld.
- British Airways cuts ties with SeaWorld
- Airline will no longer promote attractions featuring captive wild animals
- Virgin Holidays and others have also ended SeaWorld partnerships
The UK-based airline said Thursday it will no longer promote attractions with animal performances or swim-with encounters as part of a new partnership with wildlife organization Born Free.
British Airways will also no longer sell tickets or offer tours to those attractions.
"Our customers tell us they have concerns about wild animals being kept in captivity, and increasingly see animal performances in particular as outdated," British Airways managing director Claire Bentley said in a statement.
As of Thursday, all attractions "where wild animals kept in captivity are central to the attraction" have been removed from the airline's website.
SeaWorld responded in a statement sent Thursday.
"When radical animal rights activists mislead and manipulate the truth to the detriment of our planet's critically endangered animals, you have to question their motives," SeaWorld CEO Gus Antorcha said. "Pressuring companies and trying to shame them into cutting ties with independently accredited zoos and aquariums work against the vital research and conservation work to protect these animals. We are disappointed that British Airways Holidays succumed to pressure from animal activists and changed its policy given the facts."
British Airways is the latest travel provider to cut ties with SeaWorld. United Airlines, Air Canada and Thomas Cook have all parted ways with the theme park company.
Just last month, UK-based Virgin Holidays announced it was no longer selling tickets to SeaWorld and other attractions where whales and dolphins are held captive.
SeaWorld said it was disappointed with Virgin Holidays' decision, citing the number of animal rescues it's done in the last few decades.
The Orlando-based company has spent the last few years trying to recover from backlash that followed the release of the 2013 film Blackfish, which criticized SeaWorld's treatment of orcas.
After years of declining attendance and revenue, SeaWorld has since reported gains in both areas.
In an earnings report released Tuesday, SeaWorld parks have had 9.8 million visitors so far this year.
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