Sustainability Thomas Cook

Thomas Cook animal welfare guidelines

We love seeing animals on holiday, from elephants in the wild to playful dolphins in the ocean, encountering animals we don’t get to see at home reminds us how special - and sometimes fragile - the world is.

At the same time, we understand that our customers want to ensure that the animals they see are well taken care of. That's why we are proud to be able to say that we only work with reputable tour companies and attractions that prioritise the welfare of their animals. We want to give our customers the confidence to book excursions and visit venues, knowing that the lives of these creatures are protected and taken seriously.

We're committed to providing our customers with an experience that is both enjoyable and responsible. That’s why our guidelines take their lead from ABTA's own policy. We are clear that based on the evidence from leading organisations that we won’t sell attractions with captive orcas (killer whales) or cetaceans (e.g. dolphins). There are many excellent ways to experience these animals in their natural habitats and we know that our customers love doing so.

We also review our approach regularly to ensure we follow the latest recommendations and guidance. All our listed attractions adhere to these high standards. We work with external partners to continuously monitor and assess these venues. If customers have any concerns about attractions they have visited, we want to hear from them. The ABTA guidelines are based on the principles of the Five Domains Model – the most widely accepted model of animal welfare. The five domains are nutrition, physical environment, health, behavioural interactions, and mental state.


Attractions that meet our standards: 

- Horse, camel, donkey riding – domesticated animals in well-supported and nurturing environments 

- Zoos, aquariums, safari parks that meet our high standards - you can read more about those attractions that meet the highest international standards based on World Association of Zoos and Aquariums here: 

- Whale/ dolphin watching experiences in the wild where there is no interaction 

- Safaris and other responsible tours observing animals in their natural habitats


Attractions that we won't sell: 

- Elephant riding

- Swimming with dolphins or pigs where there is interaction 

- Any attraction that has captive orcas (aka killer whales) and other dolphins or whales 

- Encounters that involve touching animals where the animal is unable to move freely away

- Bull fighting, bull running 

- Any rodeo events  

- Any animals involved in begging or performances 

- Any feeding of wild animals that is not instigated by the animal 


Wildlife-watching guide:

In compiling this policy we have worked closely with PETA and included below is guidance from the organisation on wildlife watching tours. 

Wildlife-watching tours on land can offer a rewarding way to see animals in their natural environment, and some operators may also support local conservation projects. But bear in mind that tours in popular tourist hotspots can have a negative impact on wild animals. To minimise this, choose an experience that treads lightly on the environment. Keep a respectful distance from wild animals, keep noise to a minimum, stick to dedicated walking trails, do not feed or touch animals, do not try to take a selfie with them, and keep the natural environment clean and litter-free.

Marine wildlife–watching tours using boats can disturb the hunting, reproduction, and feeding habits of animals in their natural habitat. It is a privilege to see dolphins, seals, sharks, and other sea animals in the wild. Lower-impact options include paddle boarding, kayaking, and careful and responsible snorkelling. If you do choose a boat tour, go with an operator that supports marine-animal conservation and research. Take care to minimise the impact on animals by not going on a tour in a busy area. This will reduce noise-related stress to whales and dolphins and keep diesel pollution of marine waters to a minimum.


Booking tours, activities and attractions:

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