Virgin America Ends Partnership With SeaWorld

Airline Cuts Ties After PETA Pitch About Marine-Mammal Abuse; Virgin Group Still Holding Out

For Immediate Release:
October 14, 2014

David Perle 202-483-7382

Burlingame, Calif.

After hearing from PETA that SeaWorld has forcibly removed baby orcas from their loving mothers and pods and subjected them and other animals to a life of deprivation and physical and psychological suffering in captivity, U.S. airline Virgin America has removed SeaWorld as a partner from its Elevate Fly Store, a rewards program in which customers can make purchases from various locations for points that can be used toward airfare. This act should be the catalyst that moves Sir Richard Branson and Virgin Group, a separate entity, to cut ties with SeaWorld, too, and stop selling tickets to the parks.

“With people around the world speaking out against the insanity of keeping huge ocean animals inside tiny concrete tanks at SeaWorld, Virgin America’s decision to put the theme park on its ‘no-fly’ list was the right call,” says PETA Foundation Deputy General Counsel Delcianna Winders. “PETA is encouraging companies to refuse to partner with SeaWorld until it releases the orcas it holds captive into marine sanctuaries.”

Virgin America made the compassionate choice to join a long list of airlines and travel companies that do not and will not promote SeaWorld—including Southwest Airlines, JetBlue, Alaska Airlines, Frontier Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, STA Travel, and Aimia, which operates Aeroplan, one of the most popular rewards programs in Canada.

Following the release of Blackfish, the documentary that exposed SeaWorld’s history of cruelty to the animals it holds captive, the company’s stock has been in a downward spiral—dropping more than 45 percent since the day it was first issued. The company is drowning in debt, owing more than $1.6 billion to creditors, and Standard & Poor’s also recently lowered its credit rating further to junk status.

PETA—whose motto says, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—is calling on SeaWorld to develop ocean sanctuaries in which orcas could be rehabilitated and finally have the opportunity to engage in natural behavior that visitors could observe from nearby “whale watching” centers.

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