Killer whale dies in holiday park sparking ‘boycott’ calls from animal activists

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Animal rights campaigners have called for Jet2holidays to stop promoting marine parks after a killer whale died at one of the holiday attractions.

Moana the orca died last Friday (October 17) at the age of 12. The creature lived a far shorter life than the animals often enjoy in the wild – outside of captivity, they can live for up to 50 years.

The creature passed away at Marineland in Antibes, France, a venue promoted on Jet2holidays’ website.

Now, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have teamed up with and more than half a dozen scientists, conservationists and specialist organisations to pen a letter urging the company’s CEO, Steve Heapy, to “take a stand against animal suffering” and stop selling tickets to attractions like Marineland.

“It is impossible for an amusement park to provide captive cetaceans with a life comparable to that which these far-ranging marine mammals would experience in nature,” the letter said.

“Whales and dolphins held in cramped concrete tanks for tourist entertainment suffer every day and are denied the opportunity to engage in natural behaviour like diving deep, swimming long distances, or choosing a mate.”

The letter went pointed out other travel companies like Expedia and British Airways Holidays had already cut ties with marine parks. It then urged the company to “drop all marine park promotions and immediately end ticket sales.”

Other organisations putting their names to the letter include World Animal Protection, Born Free Foundation, World Cetacean Alliance, Humane Society International/UK, Whale and Dolphin Conservation and Marine Connection.

PETA has called for Jet2holidays to boycott the marine shows (stock) (Image: Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
PETA has called for Jet2holidays to boycott the marine shows (stock) (Image: Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
In the wild, orcas can live for up to 50 years (stock) (Image: Getty Images/Radius Images)
In the wild, orcas can live for up to 50 years (stock) (Image: Getty Images/Radius Images)

The news comes after an ex-SeaWorld trainer teamed up with the organisation to share his experiences and urged Heapy to consider dropping the parks from his company’s books. John Hargrove, who worked with 20 orcas over the course of his decade-long career, says he has realised the shows are cruel – and can lead to some pretty devastating outcomes for humans and animals alike, the Daily Star previously reported.

He told Heapy the shows turn the creatures into “unwilling circus clowns” and shouldn’t be supported. “I wanted to share my firsthand experience as a former senior orca trainer at marine parks in the hope that you’ll conclude, as I did, that these facilities cause orcas a world of suffering and are not worthy of your support,” Mr Hargrove wrote.

An ex-SeaWorld trainer recently teamed up with PETA to back the boycott (stock) (Image: Getty Images/All Canada Photos)
An ex-SeaWorld trainer recently teamed up with PETA to back the boycott (stock) (Image: Getty Images/All Canada Photos)

The animal expert-turned author explained the cramped conditions orcas are subjected to can cause physical and mental health issues, ranging from ulcers and infections to aggressive tendencies. In some cases this can lead to human fatalities.


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This article by Lizzie McAllister was first published by The Daily Star on 23 October 2023. Lead Image: An orca recently died in captivity (stock) (Image: Getty Images).

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