Expedia to stop selling some animal tours

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TripAdvisor said last fall it would delist many animal attractions, including dolphin swims.
TripAdvisor said last fall it would delist many animal attractions, including dolphin swims. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Expedia Inc. on Thursday said it will identify and remove tours and attractions where participants interact with wildlife.

The company has partnered with animal-protection groups to identify the attractions over the coming months.

"Relying on guidance from industry-leading wildlife and animal-protection groups, Expedia will undertake a thorough review over the next few months and will remove activities from its websites and other distribution channels," the company said in a statement.

While Expedia did not specifically name products, it said "activities involving certain wildlife animal interactions will no longer be bookable on its online travel sites."

Last October, TripAdvisor said it would stop selling hundreds of attractions that bring tourists into contact with captive wild animals, like elephant rides, the chance to pet tigers and swimming with dolphins. It continued to sell attractions involving domesticated animals, like horseback riding, aquariums with educational touch pools, feeding programs where tourists are under supervision of officials and voluntourism programs that involve work with endangered species.

Expedia also announced a new Wildlife Tourism Educational Portal to launch later this year, an initiative to help educate travelers on animal welfare. It will include information on activities offered through Expedia, like communication as to whether activities involve animal interactions, links to learn about wildlife tourism and animal welfare, and broader education around animal welfare.

Expedia said it is working with groups like the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, U.S. Wildlife Trafficking Alliance, Born Free Foundation, the Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International.

"Expedia can play an integral part in educating travelers about the diverse views related to wildlife tourism, so they can make informed decisions that align with how they travel and how they interact with the animals that share our planet," Jen O'Twomney, vice president of Expedia Local Expert, said in a statement. "As travelers, it is important that we know more about the places we go, the activities we engage in, and the ways in which we leave lasting impacts on our destinations. As we help people go places, we want to help them do it thoughtfully, and responsibly."

Daniel Turner, associate director of tourism for the Born Free Foundation, said Expedia's move "shows real leadership by one of the travel industry's most influential players."

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