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A demonstration was held in Kingston outside Thomas Cook to protest the company promoting excursions to the ‘cruel’ SeaWorld parks in America.

Activists from Peta (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) demonstrated, on Saturday, September 9, as part of the charity’s national day of action for captive orcas.

Ingrid Newkirk, co-founder and president of Peta, said: “We are disgusted at Thomas Cook particularly because it sets itself up as a leader in animal welfare – it does a song and dance about that – is dragging its feet and not changing when it knows it needs to change and stop promoting these SeaWorld excursions.

“Ever since the film Blackfish came out, people have been leaving SeaWorld and not going anywhere near it. They are horrified that in the old days SeaWorld first stocked their tanks with these ocean-going orcas, capturing them in rodeo style, taking them away from their mothers, their aunts, their matriarchal pods and the ocean.

“We are out every day at all three SeaWorld sites. We run into a lot of English tourists – and we have run into a lot who have booked tours and travel through Thomas Cook – who have had no idea courtesy of Thomas Cook that there was anything wrong with SeaWorld.”

A spokesman for Thomas Cook claims the company is evaluating all animal excursions, but did not mention whether SeaWorld has already been audited.

He said: ““We are the first organisation to remove animal excursions from sale as the direct result of auditing against independent welfare standards and we are widely recognised as one of the most progressive businesses on animal welfare in our industry, so it’s surprising that PETA has chosen to target us in this way.

“By the end of 2017, around two-thirds of the animal-related excursions we offer to our customers will have been audited. We expect to complete all audits by the end of 2018. Last year we removed 16 of 25 attractions that did not meet independent welfare standards. So far this year, 12 attractions are on notice to improve their animal welfare arrangements or face Thomas Cook removing them from sale.

“We are taking our policy to raise animal welfare standards very seriously so that our customers can be confident in all of the trips that they take when on holiday with us.”