Tour Operators U.K. operators shun animal attractions By Michelle Baran / April 04, 2017 Share 1 Thomas Cook has stopped selling tickets to dolphin parks among other wildlife attractions. -- British travel company Thomas Cook on Monday said it has stopped selling tickets to 16 wildlife activities, following in the footsteps of other companies that are avoiding animal encounters they deem as cruel or inhumane. The decision was announced the same day that U.K.-based tour operator Responsible Travel said that it would no longer promote trips that include zoo visits, and consequently removed six trips from its website that had included zoos.Thomas Cook Group has stopped selling tickets for 11 venues that incorporate dolphin interactions, including Sealanya in Turkey and Ocean World in the Dominican Republic, as well as for six other captive-animal venues, including the Baan Chang Elephant Park and the Asia Safari and Elephant Village in Thailand.According to animal rights advocacy group World Animal Protection, Thomas Cook's decision came after the organization put pressure on the company to take action with a petition signed by more than 174,000 supporters."The tide is turning as more and more companies stop selling tickets to cruel wildlife venues," Kate Nustedt, wildlife director at World Animal Protection, said in a statement. "Tourists that visit these venues are unaware of the cruelty and abuse that these animals endure in the name of entertainment, and the travel industry has a key role in changing this."As part of a larger campaign to influence travel companies to stop offering trips to venues where animals are used to entertain visitors, World Animal Protection has seen 166 travel companies, including well-known brands such as TripAdvisor and Contiki, commit to discontinuing visits to venues that offer elephant rides and shows.Responsible Travel stated that its decision to take an even stronger stance by discontinuing zoo visits came after the release of the 2016 BBC Horizon program "Should we Close Our Zoos?" After consulting with wildlife charity Born Free Foundation, the company decided that there was no longer any justifiable reason for keeping animals in captivity."Zoos are not appropriate in 2017. They are relics of the past, and the arguments to justify keeping animals in captivity no longer stand up," stated Justin Francis, CEO of Responsible Travel. "The sad reality is that the animals are held captive primarily for our entertainment not for reasons of conservation, and it is time that this stopped."