Major Canadian Airlines WestJet and Air Canada Drop SeaWorld Partnership Over Marine Mammal Captivity

westjet seaworld

Canadian airlines WestJet and Air Canada have officially severed ties with SeaWorld in response to public concern for the welfare of captive marine animals.

International organization PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) reports that WestJet moved to end all promotions with SeaWorld after more than 160,000 individuals reached out to the low-cost airline regarding its ongoing relationship with the notorious marine park. Prior to the announcement, the company would regularly offer customers discount vacation packages featuring tickets to SeaWorld.

“This was a decision our leadership team made entirely on its own and believes the decision is entirely in keeping with our caring culture,” WestJet spokeswoman Lauren Stewart said in an email to the Calgary Herald.

“No compassionate company today is willing to associate itself with SeaWorld’s orca prisons,” said PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. “PETA is calling on kind consumers to stay away from SeaWorld and choose to do business with travel providers such as WestJet that have pledged to do the same.”

Air Canada says it stopped offering SeaWorld tickets last week in what it called a “commercial decision.”

SeaWorld has been under fire since the release of the 2013 documentary “Blackfish,” which told the story of the captive orca Tilikum and shed light on the ongoing improper care of the park’s animals. According to PETA, at least 40 orcas, 300 dolphins and whales, and 450 seals, sea lions, and walruses have died at SeaWorld Parks since 1971.

The truth of SeaWorld’s abuses has dealt a significant blow to the park’s reputation and attendance has been on a steady decline for the past few years. Earlier this year, Joel Manby resigned as CEO due to falling profits. Last April, it was reported that attendance to SeaWorld San Diego had plummeted by over half a million visitors.

Many businesses are taking notice of how the public perception of SeaWorld has shifted. Last July, Thomas Cook, Britain’s biggest tour operator, severed ties with the park, citing customer expectations as the driving factor. Hyundai Motor America, JetBlue, Panama  Jack, Southwest Airlines, and Taco Bell are among other major companies that have cut ties with SeaWorld.

Image Credit: rinathq_aviation