Sunwing and WestJet join growing list of Canadian companies putting an end to cruel dolphin entertainment


Following the release of our latest report, Sunwing and WestJet are the latest Canadian companies to report that they will stop selling and promoting dolphin suffering

Our research shows that when travellers learn the truth about what happens to dolphins used for shows and swim-with experiences, they don’t want to participate in the activity.

On October 24, we released a new report, “Behind the smile: The multi-billion dollar dolphin entertainment industry” highlighting the suffering endured by dolphins kept in captivity for tourism. We exposed how this industry is profiting off the suffering of more than 3000 dolphins; with each dolphin generating between $400,000 to $2 million USD per year. These profits further incentivize their capture from the wild and the routine breeding.

The research is clear: keeping dolphins in captivity and using them for entertainment is cruel. We are thrilled that Sunwing and WestJet are responding to the science and have committed to stop promoting and profiting from this cruelty.

Image: Dolphins in entertainment at Zoomarine, Portugal. Public display facilities housing marine mammals like dolphins are not essential conservation or education resources, and the animals they display suffer poor welfare as a result of their captive environment.

PAX news reported the news on Oct 31. According to a statement provided to them from Sunwing, Rachel Goldrick, Sunwing's senior corporate communications manager, said that “Sunwing Vacations is committed to ceasing the promotion and sales of packaged tours and excursions that involve captive marine mammals by August 2020. Furthermore, we will continue to work with our partners and local suppliers to develop environmentally conscious alternatives to tours of this nature.”

“Responsible tourism is key to our current business practices together with our vision for the future. We encourage and empower our staff in destination to work with our local partners to establish and implement sustainable practices while maintaining the highest ethical standards throughout our operations.”

Their announcement comes just days after Air Canada and Air Transat made similar commitments following our outreach. 

In the picture: a trainer in Mexico training two dolphins to grab a basketball. Dolphins have no access to enrichment other than man made toys. They are often found swimming in circles and presenting abnormal or repetitive behaviors. 

In response to our report, WestJet has also informed PAX news that it is committed to making the necessary changes to its excursions.  Their vacations team is currently evaluating what changes need to be made so they have not specified a timeline yet.

Melissa Matlow, Campaign Director for World Animal Protection said: “We are thrilled by these commitments and the impact it has on the industry. With every company that transitions, we are a step closer to ensuring that this is the last generation of dolphins kept captive in inhumane conditions for our entertainment.

“Travel advisors are so important to the success of our work. Most tourists who choose to participate in an animal-activity are animal lovers. They trust their travel advisor to provide them with the right information so they can make travel decisions that align with their values. Our research shows that when travellers learn the truth about what happens to dolphins used for shows and swim-with experiences, they don’t want to participate in the activity. Travel advisors can help us educate tourists and shift demand towards more ethical forms of wildlife tourism because there are many ways that travellers can experience wildlife on vacation.”

Before we launched our campaign and report, World Animal Protection had asked these companies to remove captive dolphin venues and other harmful attractions from their supply chain. We provided the scientific research and evidence that dolphins suffer in captivity and that tourists were becoming more aware and concerned about these activities. When the Canadian government passed legislation last June to ban the breeding and display of cetaceans for entertainment, it really underscored the importance of asking Canadian-based companies to do their part and lead the global tourism industry in the right direction. We are proud they rose to the challenge.

You can keep the momentum going

Our voices are louder together. Here are some actions you can take today to keep the momentum going and encourage even more companies to become dolphin-friendly.

Read our report: 'Behind the smile: The multi-billion dollar dolphin entertainment industry'

Read and share our article: The seven biggest lies the dolphin industry tells