Former Orca Trainer Speaks Out in Letter to Jet2holidays

Posted by on October 5, 2023 | Permalink

In a plea to put compassion before profit, former senior orca trainer – and The New York Times best-selling author – John Hargrove sent an urgent letter to Jet2holidays CEO Steve Heapy.

Hargrove called on Heapy to ensure the company ends its promotion of attractions that exploit orcas and other dolphins, treating them as “unwilling circus clowns”. The letter points out that “these facilities cause orcas a world of suffering and are not worthy of your support”.

© Melissa Hargrove

John Hargrove’s Background

Hargrove spent more than a decade training over 20 orcas – including some now held at Loro Parque, one of the facilities Jet2holidays sells tickets to – before resigning from his position. Now he dedicates his life to helping cetaceans by speaking publicly against the horrors orcas and other dolphins endure at marine parks and raising awareness of the detrimental physical and psychological effects of keeping them captive for entertainment.

The Former SeaWorld Trainer’s Letter

In his appeal to the British package holiday provider, Hargrove highlights the danger that orcas who are kept prisoner pose to workers. He experienced first-hand “the inevitable aggression that stems from their frustration and lack of enrichment” while “swimming with Keto, who went on to violently kill and mutilate trainer Alexis Martínez at Loro Parque on Christmas Eve 2009”.

Hargrove’s letter also describes how the mental anguish caused by a lifetime in a concrete tank leads to unnatural behaviour, which takes a physical toll on these animals.

“It leads orcas to gnaw on anything they can, including the gates and sides of their tanks, wearing their teeth down, even breaking them. Most develop ulcers, and all of them develop infections due to their living conditions.”
– John Hargrove

He concludes his letter with a poignant message to Heapy: “I urge Jet2holidays to be on the right side of history by ending the promotion of attractions that exploit orcas for human amusement. … [O]rcas and other dolphins belong in one place and one place only – the ocean.”

© Melissa Hargrove

The Tide Is Turning on Marine Parks

Hargrove joins nearly 45,000 PETA supporters, including singer Morrissey – who has publicly urged Jet2holidays to drop marine parks from its itineraries.

PETA US bought shares in the company in order to put pressure on decision-makers in the boardroom. Earlier this month, a PETA US representative spoke at Jet2’s annual meeting, calling on the company to act. If it chooses to do so, it will join other leading travel providers such as Thomas Cook, Virgin Atlantic Holidays, and British Airways Holidays in cutting ties with facilities that keep orcas and other dolphins in watery prisons.

Send Jet2holidays a Message

You can join John Hargrove in urging Jet2holidays to take a stand against animal abuse in marine parks. Send your own message to Jet2holidays’ CEO Steve Heapy now.