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Qantas has joined the ranks of airlines shunning links with shows that involve performances by captive cetaceans – dolphins, whales and orcas – according to a news report.

The shows are highly popular with families, but the tide may be turning.

The website Yahoo Lifestyle quoted a Qantas spokesperson saying “we don’t promote these types of venues” and adding “as Australia’s largest airline we know we have a responsibility to ensure organisations we partner with meet our own expectations and that of the community”.

Sea World on the Gold Coast, owned by Village Roadshow, told Yahoo Lifestyle its dolphin shows continue to receive strong support from travel agencies.

The San Diego Union-Tribune reported earlier this month a decision by British Airways Holidays to stop offering customers the option of booking tickets for attractions that feature captive animals.

The publication noted that the new strategy could potentially affect visitation at SeaWorld in San Diego. It said that Virgin Holidays and United Airlines had already discontinued promoting experiences or attractions on their websites that involved captive whales and dolphins, while Southwest Airlines severed its ties with SeaWorld five years ago after the release of “Blackfish,” a documentary that focussed on captive killer whales.

More recently, the release last month of a documentary called “Long Gone Wild” is having an effect.

The documentary features Dr Naomi Rose, marine mammal scientist at the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), who is at the forefront of a global movement to end captivity of cetaceans.

Publicity surrounding the documentary has mentioned British holiday giant Thomas Cook’s decision last year to stop promoting trips to marine entertainment attractions that confine orcas, and a decision by Canada to ban public display of captive cetaceans.

“Long Gone Wild” documents a high-stakes Russian operation to capture wild orcas to service a fast-growing Chinese marine theme park industry (82 parks so far) which is offering to pay a staggering USD 7 million each for live whales.

Emma Hurst

NSW politician Emma Hurst, the first female Member of Parliament elected to represent the Animal Justice Party, is campaigning to prevent any animal “spending their life in captivity being forced to perform for human ‘entertainment’”.

Hurst has highlighted the plight of a bottlenose dolphin, which she says “was imprisoned for over 45 years in a chlorinated pool, never being able to express natural behaviours or return to his ocean home”.

Written by Peter Needham