KEY WEST, Fla. (AP) – Officials at marine mammal facilities in the Florida Keys say they’re concerned about travel website TripAdvisor’s decision to stop selling bookings to attractions where travelers can make physical contact with captive wild animals or endangered species.
Swim-with-dolphin attractions were among the experiences specifically mentioned in TripAdvisor’s Oct. 11 announcement, along with elephant rides and tiger petting.
The Dolphin Research Center offers dolphin encounters on Grassy Key but doesn’t sell tickets through TripAdvisor. Marketing director Mary Stella told The Citizen last week (http://bit.ly/2eH7EhI ) that TripAdvisor’s decision ignores how interacting with marine mammals can inspire visitors to support conservation efforts.
Theater of the Sea sells tickets through TripAdvisor’s affiliated Viator booking website. Curator Beverley Osborne said she hopes the new policy won’t negatively affect the Islamorada facility, which follows strict guidelines for marine mammal care.