Thomas Cook calls on the travel industry to better protect animals in tourism

image from unsplash – sourced independently of press release

Born Free welcomes Thomas Cook’s ground-breaking new policy that seeks to improve the welfare of captive wild animals

International wildlife charity, Born Free Foundation, has today welcomed the announcement by Thomas Cook (13th December) outlining the travel company’s new policy to improve the welfare of captive wild animals in tourist attractions.

Key commitments include:

  • All animal attractions must be fully compliant with the ABTA Global Welfare Guidance for Animals in Tourism
  • A decision to no longer sell or promote any new attractions or hotels keeping wild animals in captivity that do not comply with industry minimum welfare requirements
  • Ensuring that existing facilities keeping captive wild animals, contracted by Thomas Cook, meet the highest animal welfare standards
  • Agreeing to phase-out practices that are known to severely compromise the welfare and survival of animals
  • Supporting attractions and excursions that safeguard the welfare and protection of animals.

“Born Free welcomes the announcement by Thomas Cook and their decision to improve animal welfare through the enforcement of the ABTA Global Welfare Guidance,” said Daniel Turner, Associate Director of Tourism and EU Compliance at Born Free Foundation. “The leadership shown by Thomas Cook is a potential game-changer for wild animals kept in captivity that are involved in tourism practices; ending their exploitation and phasing-out their confinement in restrictive conditions.”

Public attitudes towards the keeping and exploitation of wild animals in captivity are changing, a fact acknowledged by Thomas Cook’s announcement.

Born Free, since its establishment in 1984, has questioned the keeping of wild animals in captivity. Advocating that wildlife belongs in the wild, the charity works, in the short term, with governments and the travel sector to improve standards in the welfare of animals in zoos and other attractions,  and seeks viable conservation and education alternatives, in the long-term.

“Our animal welfare policy, developed in partnership with the Born Free Foundation and animals in tourism specialists, Global Spirit, will require all animal attractions and outings sold by Thomas Cook to evidence full compliance with the ABTA Global Welfare Guidance,” announced Peter Fankhauser, Chief Executive, Thomas Cook. “I am proud that Thomas Cook is taking the lead as the first travel business to enforce higher animal welfare standards. We’re committed to conducting our business in a way that is consistent with our customers’ expectations of us.”

Born Free has been working with Thomas Cook and other mainstream tour operators for over 10 years, championing the need for greater respect for, and care of animals used in tourism activities. Thomas Cook’s announcement, and their creation of an animal welfare policy, is testament to the importance of the Foundation’s constructive engagement with the travel sector which promotes higher animal welfare standards and an end to practices that are known to severely compromise the welfare and survival of animals.

“Thomas Cook’s decision to lead the travel industry away from the exploitation of wild animals in captivity for entertainment purposes, towards a future where their welfare needs are respected and tourism becomes a driver for conservation and environmental protection, is a vision I and millions of others wholeheartedly support,” said Will Travers OBE, CEO and President of Born Free Foundation.

“Thomas Cook and Born Free are charting new territory where an extraordinary future beckons, one based on respect and compassion. Together we will defend the principle that wild animals should be free, and we commit ourselves to their protection, and the conservation of the natural world.”

Born Free will continue to work with Thomas Cook to implement and enforce its animal welfare policy and seek, wherever possible, bring to an end to animal exploitation for entertainment purposes.

Notes to Editors:

About Born Free

The Born Free Foundation is a dynamic international wildlife charity, devoted to compassionate conservation and animal welfare. Born Free takes action worldwide to protect threatened species and stop individual animal suffering. Born Free believes wildlife belongs in the wild and works to phase-out zoos. We rescue animals from lives of misery in tiny cages and give them lifetime care.

Born Free protects lions, elephants, tigers, gorillas, wolves, polar bears, dolphins, marine turtles and many more species in their natural habitat, working with local communities to help people and wildlife live together without conflict. Our high-profile campaigns change public attitudes, persuade decision-makers and get results. Every year, Born Free helps hundreds of   thousands of animals worldwide. For more information about Born Free please visit:

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