A small step for Virgin – no giant leap for dolphin-kind

Dear Friends of Wildlife

First, the good news.  Richard Branson and Virgin will no longer do business with captive marine facilities that “…take receipt of cetecea including whales and dolphins that were taken from the wild after 14th February 2014”.  Good.  This is, without doubt, a positive step.

Here’s the not so good news.

Despite spending two days with senior representatives from Virgin in Miami, the Company has not taken the bold, courageous and necessary step of actively ending its association with the exploitation of whales and dolphins in captivity.

Despite the best efforts of representatives from Born Free, the World Cetacean Alliance, the Animal Welfare Institute, Whale and Dolphin Conservation and the Orca Research Trust, we were unable to persuade Virgin to fully recognise the welfare crisis that captive cetacea, particularly orca, endure in marine aquariums.

What will be the result of Virgin’s statement today?

It will, for sure, get people talking.  But will it cause the captive marine display industry to change its business model; to commit itself to the conservation of wild and free-living dolphins and whales; to end its captive-breeding programmes (aimed at perpetuating the keeping of these animals in captivity, not for release to the wild)……?  I doubt it.

I recognise that Virgin and Richard Branson himself are associated in the public mind with leadership.  Whether it is space travel, being an Ocean Elder, or transforming working practices (Sir Richard announced only a few days ago that his Head Office staff could take as much as holiday as they wished), Virgin positions itself as a thought-leader in the entrepreneurial business world.

The pledge announced today is a indeed small step forward for Virgin but it not the giant leap for dolphin-kind that I had hoped for.

Nevertheless, the door is always open, the opportunity is still there and, together with colleagues from the animal protection movement, I am ready,  anytime, anywhere, to meet, to talk, and to take this to the next level.

Freedom is not a dream.

Blogging off


Read a joint statement from concerned NGOs here

7 Responses to “A small step for Virgin – no giant leap for dolphin-kind”

  1. Joe Kamau Says:

    Hi Will,

    I totally concur and I must say I am a big fan of your work. Hoping to do some filming for some of your organisation’s work back here in Kenya. I have been looking for organisations bold enough to do meaningful stuff (like your desnaring campaign) and help spread the awareness through EDM. Check out the concept from this video and imagine that being your work filmed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=si7Xi6VU2Tg

    Thanks and keep up the great work Will. You are truly my hero.

    Tsar Joe

  2. Karen Knowlton Says:

    It is a step but he needed to show courage and a positive attitude.
    I hope that he at least sticks to having nothing to do with
    Aquariums that take from the wild as the life span of captives
    Is low. Have to keep on campaigning and highlighting to the world
    How these cetaceans are ripped from their habitat in Taiji and elsewhere

  3. Heather Taylor Says:

    Shame on you!!

  4. Suzanne Kerr Says:

    All those poor captives were either taken from the wild,or descendants of wild ones.. When they want sperm donations to expand their current gene pool, is it then OK for places like SeaWorld to obtain that from places like Japan? From wild caught dolphins, or captive born offspring.. Its not all black & white. There are very shady areas where places such ad SW are concerned..along with corrupt Russia/Japan & mafia links.. Money = Power (they should be closed as were those in the UK & Brits visiting SW only make a mockery of Animal) Welfare Laws in their own country

  5. Elizabeth Parrini Says:

    Richard Branson and your cohorts HANG your heads in shame – money talks always! How can you sleep at night??? Counting your profits must help!!!! Sooooo disgusted with you and your horrible company!!!!!

  6. Baharak Ghahraman Says:

    Mr. Branson,
    Please respect animals right for living free. Do you need the money gained from their captivity?

  7. Carolyn Griffin Says:

    Apparently Branson needs some education!