AZA News Releases

Association of Zoos and Aquariums Statement on Recent Thomas Cook Announcement

SILVER SPRING, Md. – On Sunday, the travel company, Thomas Cook, announced beginning next summer, the company will no longer sell trips to animal parks that care for killer whales or “orcas.” This decision directly impacts SeaWorld Orlando, an AZA-accredited facility which also achieved a 100% rating in an animal welfare audit Thomas Cook had the facility undertake. In response, Dan Ashe, President and CEO of the AZA, issued the following statement:

The Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ accreditation standards are regarded as the ‘gold standard’ for modern zoological facilities worldwide. Our standards are publicly available and are continuously improving to reflect new science in animal care and welfare. SeaWorld Orlando is a responsible member and leader within our community that has consistently achieved accreditation for the last 35 years. Not only do the dedicated professionals at SeaWorld provide their animals with exceptional care, but they also provide significant support for the rescue of injured marine mammals and sea turtles. Guests to SeaWorld Orlando can be assured that their visit is educational, family-friendly, and supports SeaWorld’s efforts to help save animals from extinction.

AZA’s accreditation standards, including specific standards related to cetaceans, can be found here:

About AZA

Founded in 1924, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, animal welfare, education, science, and recreation. AZA is the accrediting body for the top zoos and aquariums in the United States and eight other countries. Look for the AZA accreditation logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium as your assurance that you are supporting a facility dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you, and a better future for all living things. The AZA is a leader in saving species and your link to helping animals all over the world. To learn more, visit

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