Virgin Holidays pledges $300K to move dolphins to sanctuary

Posted at 6:36 AM, Apr 19, 2018

MIAMI (AP) — The tour operator Virgin Holidays is pledging $300,000 to help move seven dolphins from the National Aquarium in Baltimore to a seaside sanctuary.

The aquarium is still deciding where to retire its dolphins, though a statement Wednesday from Virgin Holidays says the site selection is focused on Florida.

Virgin Holidays Managing Director Joe Thompson says the U.K.-based tour company is focused on developing "alternative forms of tourism" that highlight marine mammal welfare instead of theatrical shows.

Aquarium CEO John Racanelli says Virgin Holidays shares the aquarium's drive to reimagine how humans interact with animals.

The aquarium has begun a three-year program to teach its dolphins new behaviors and prepare them to move. The program includes raising water temperatures and allowing algae to grow in the dolphins' current indoor tanks.