Thomas Cook under fire for promoting Chinese resort that has dolphins caught in cruel hunts

Thomas Cook has come under fire from animal rights campaigners for offering rooms in a Chinese hotel that has captive dolphins and beluga whales displayed at on-site attractions.

The dolphins have been sourced from a drive fishing hunt in Japan described by a leading marine mammal scientist as horrific and wildly cruel. The same scientist described dolphin and beluga captivity as fundamentally inhumane. 

The UK-based Dolphin Freedom pressure group has been calling upon Thomas Cook to cut its ties with the hotel the Atlantis Sanya in Hainan province. It argues that the deal with this hotel renders the travel company's recently trumpeted animal welfare policy regarding marine attractions, in which it announced a move away from them, as disingenuous. 

Its campaign has included demonstrations outside Thomas Cook offices and the circulating of a #dropthedolphins hashtag on Twitter. 

The $1.74billion (£1.5billion) Atlantis Sanya, which opened in May, has two major marine attractions Dolphin Cay and The Lost Chambers Aquarium. The former is partially open, the latter fully open and free for all guests to visit, though animal interactions at both cost extra. 

Its website describes Dolphin Cay as 'a state-of-the-art dolphin education centre and interaction habitat, which brings enlightenment and education to visitors about one of the oceans most fascinating and memorable marine animals'.

Visitors can wade into waist-deep waters to meet the dolphins, have their photographs taken with them....

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