On the evening of Oct. 23, the Canadian “Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphin Act”, also known as Bill S-203, passed legislation, cleared the Senate, and has now moved on to the House of Commons.
In light of the new bill, and as a response to the increase of travellers seeing the damage of engaging or promoting animal tourism, Air Canada and WestJet are among the latest companies to cut ties with SeaWorld. Both companies will no longer sell tickets to SeaWorld, previously offered on their respective websites.
If enacted, the bill would mean that it would be an offence to keep captive, breed, import, or export any whale, dolphin or porpoise.
But now, SeaWorld says it isn't so, and claims that the group of companies actually ended the business relationship first, and not the other way around.
WestJet & Air Canada speak out
"This was a decision our leadership team made entirely on its own and believes the decision is entirely in keeping with our caring culture," spokesperson from WestJet, Lauren Stewart said in an email to PAX this morning.
WestJet made the decision to remove SeaWorld tickets this past August. Travellers who purchased tickets to SeaWorld prior to this decision by WestJet will not be affected.
Air Canada could not be reached for comment, however, Melissa Iantosca, corporate communications manager for Air Canada Vacations, said:
"We also made the mutual commercial decision earlier this month, as we do on a regular basis when re-evaluating our offering. Prior purchases and their value will continue to be honoured."
SeaWorld fires back
SeaWorld, which operates under the umbrella of SeaWorld Entertainment Inc., currently runs three marine parks in Florida, Texas, and California, and according to a spokesperson, the reports that Air Canada ended the business relationship with SeaWorld is inaccurate.
In an official statement from SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, provided to PAX by Travis Claytor, APR, Corporate Director, Communications, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, SeaWorld said:
"Reports that Air Canada cancelled its business relationship with SeaWorld are inaccurate. SeaWorld terminated the business relationship with Air Canada effective Friday, Oct. 26. SeaWorld is proud to partner with organizations across North America – including animal rescue and conservation groups – to further our mission of protecting animals worldwide, and to share the fun and inspiring experiences at our parks with millions of families every year."
Claytor also added that SeaWorld terminated the business relationship with WestJet earlier in October.
WestJet stands by its previous comments, citing that the decision was made solely by the company's executive team back in August.