SeaWorld takes another hit as STA removes it from its travel database

by Tom Anstey | 23 May 2014

STA Travel – one of the world’s largest youth travel agencies – has made a double U-turn on a pledge to stop selling trips to SeaWorld, reimplementing a ban it announced last week and then withdrew.

The travel company, which is targeted towards the youth market, blamed “internal confusion” for the company’s announcement earlier in the week, saying the move was made to ensure its products were both “high quality” and “responsible.”

The initial announcement came out on 16 May, but was modified in a later statement to say SeaWorld trips were only under review, although an end to tours including elephant rides and visits to the Tiger Temple in Thailand remained in place.

SeaWorld has come under fire in recent months in the wake of CNN’s controversial documentary Blackfish, which recounts the 2010 death of trainer Dawn Brancheau by a 12,000-pound (5.4-ton) bull in Orlando, Florida, claiming that by being kept in captivity for entertainment the whale was driven to madness.

SeaWorld has strongly disputed the allegations of Blackfish and has called the film grossly one-sided and the product of animal activists, calling it “severely flawed on multiple levels.”

A later statement released by STA said: “We can confirm STA Travel has no direct contract with SeaWorld, and following further review due to the low demand and desire from our customers to experience this product, it is not available for sale in our reservation systems as of 22 May."

SeaWorld responded to the STA statement, saying in response: “It is unfortunate that STA Travel did not approach SeaWorld when conducting this evaluation so that we could share with them our high standards of care and the rigorous inspection and accreditation process that assures the health and well-being of our animals."

The statement continued: "Unfortunately, like most zoological institutions, we are sometimes targeted by animal activist groups that are opposed to the display of animals and too often trade in charges that are completely baseless. There is no higher priority for SeaWorld than the safety of our employees and guests and the welfare of our animals."

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STA Travel – one of the world’s largest youth travel agencies – has made a double U-turn on a pledge to stop selling trips to SeaWorld, reimplementing a ban it announced last week and then withdrew. The travel company, which is targeted towards the youth market, blamed “internal confusion” for the company’s announcement earlier in the week, saying the move was made to ensure its products were both “high quality”
TAW,VAT,PHR
SeaWorld has claimed the Blackfish documentary is 'grossly one-sided' and the product of animal activists / Shutterstock/Irina Silvestrova
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